Wednesday, May 9, 2012

And in today's news. . .

Not sure if I can handle much else. I've been so scattered lately, life keeps piling up and just when I think I can't handle one more thing on my plate, one more thing shows up. One of my surrogate dads passed away on April 28th. He was in his late 80's so he was more of a surrogate grandpa. We bonded over Peanut Butter. He just adored the not-so-little guy and was constantly giving him carrots and lettuce. Don and his wife Mona would pet-sit for me and Peanut Butter just stole his heart. Don and I spent quite some time talking to each other. One of his daughter's committed suicide as a direct result of untreated bipolar disorder and it's like he looked at me like I was his second chance with his daughter. He was always so supportive and loving; one of my biggest cheerleaders. He will be greatly missed.

Peanut Butter broke off one of his teeth. Goofy pig did it at the vet's office when he took a flying leap off of the exam table, missed my lap and did a face plant on the floor! I wish I had a video of that. I guess this makes him a redneck pig. He broke one of his top teeth and he only has four teeth total so he does look a little country. . .  It should grow back but right now he's having trouble eating :( I'll be putting in a call to the vet when their office opens.

Got my PICC line taken out on Monday! It's a good news/bad news type deal. They pulled it because getting my infusion hurt in my armpit. My line had been coming out because the lady changing the bandage wasn't being careful at all with it and then blamed me for not holding it in place. I didn't even have gloves on! I know how these bandage changes are "supposed" to be done. The line being pulled out at least 2 inches made getting the infusion hurt. I felt it in my armpit. The doctor told the nurse to pull the line and to discontinue all IV medication. So I am completely PICC line and IV medication free! The bad news: I've been continuing to deteriorate this whole time, even with multiple courses of different IV and oral antibiotics as well as oral and IV anti-virals. She said that I'm incurable, that the lyme & co-occuring viruses are going to continue in their cyclic nature and continue to get worse and leave me with worsening lingering problems. She ordered more labs and put me on two oral antibiotics and an oral antiviral but didn't sound too hopeful that they were going to do anything. If they do help then it means I'll be on oral meds for the rest of my life to try to manage the diseases. If they don't help (and it seems like neither of us thinks that they will) then it's going to be about managing the symptoms to give me a quality of life. Right now, I am close to being bed-bound so I don't have a great quality of life. I can manage to sit and/or stand for 10-15 minutes at a time and then I am back in bed. I am so grateful that my therapist's office has the stereotypical couch so I could lay down for my appointment today :) Still waiting to find out about a pain management doctor. The new laws are a blessing and a curse! My PCP can only do so much, her hands are tied because of these new laws. I was told about a place in West Palm Beach that is run Mayo Clinic-style but is focused on Eastern techniques of medicine. I doubt they take my insurance but I've been told they have a scholarship program. I'm going to look into it. Just because Western medicine has given up on me doesn't mean that all hope is gone. Doctors did say that alcoholism is incurable. While I'm not "cured,"  I'm also not drinking, proof that a state of remission is possible. I'll take remission.

The shit has hit the proverbial fan. Thing 1 told Thing 2 tonight that she needed to move out, preferably by Sunday. Thing 2 doesn't see that not following house rules is disrespectful and is also very unaware of how she effects those around her. It's like she's oblivious. I see that she is still very attached to victimhood. I told Thing 1 that it's her decision if she wants to ask Thing 2 to leave. It all started with an innocent house meeting. I have been feeling very ill and I lost my temper at one point. The two of them can't seem to communicate without one or both feeling offended and disrespected. Thing 1 looks at me like the model tenant/housemate and wants Thing 2 to be more like me. Apparently, I know how to hold my own by stating and holding boundries without lashing out on those around me. According to Thing 1 I have never lashed out at her and when Thing 2 is not feeling well that's all she does (is lash out). This is not for me to try to figure out. I couldn't sleep so I spent a good two hours composing a letter to the two of them, sharing my observations and thoughts. I think better when I can take a step back from the situation and gather my ideas. I think it's kinda ridiculous to ask Thing 2 to vacate the property by the end of the month when Thing 1 is leaving at the end of the month and will be gone for 3 1/2 months, here for two weeks and then in her own place. So, they will have a total of 5 more weeks under the same roof. Thing 2 and I manage to get along and work things out without too much trouble. The biggest problem is how much toilet paper that woman uses. If it's all going down the toilet I'm surprised that it hasn't backed up. I don't know. Thing 2 continuing to live here is not my call. I'm going to leave the letter out in the morning and we shall see how the day goes.

In the kitchen: Awhile a go I found a recipe for Slow Cooker Cherry Almond Steel-Cut Oatmeal and it is super YUMMY! Yesterday my lightbulb went off: why not make overnight, slow cooker breakfast quinoa?! So I toyed with the idea and what the changes would need to be and my first batch is in the slow cooker right now. I was a little afraid of ruining it that I went with a 50/50 ratio of quinoa and steel cut oats plus I changed the rest of the flavor profile. I can't wait til it's done!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Brain Fog!

Gee, I just read thru my old posts and realized that I had already posted the zuccini carrot muffins as a recipe for zuccini quick bread. Upon reflection, pureeing 1/4 cup of the raisins with the applesauce like I stated in the quick bread recipe rather than with the "buttermilk" is a heck of a lot smarter. I was wondering why I had to add more almond milk :) I like the muffins better because of the addition of carrots, walnuts raisins and sunflower seeds. Plus, the muffins are portion controlled. Per muffin: 218 calories, 26g carbs, 12g fat, 4g protein and 5g fiber.

Eh? Speak into my good ear please!

Finally finished all of my hearing tests, including checking the pressure in my inner ears. Good news: there is nothing mechanically wrong with my ears. What I have is neuropathic hearing loss. Oh, the interesting things lyme can do to the body.

Had another procedure done to check out why I'm having tummy trouble. The doctor told me that I am "a varient of normal," meaning that I'm abnormal without being abnormal :) I got a huge kick out of being called a varient of normal. More tests to be done and I know we'll get answers. For all we know, the tummy trouble is a side effect of the IV med I'm on.

Speaking of meds. My pain and fatigue have been thru the roof! I've been doing a lot of crying because of pain which is not normal for me. It takes a lot for me to cry from pain. I'm deep in a flare and I don't know if all the IV treatment is doing anything at all. Maybe the best thing would be to just treat symptoms and ride the flare out. Sooooo, I went to my primary doctor yesterday to talk about the pain and to get referrals to a pain management doctor and a rheumatalogist. I lost it in the exam room when she was examining me to see which areas were tender. Oh that was bad! She put me on a strong muscle relaxer. Let's just say it's a medication that I did not respect in the past. I was scared to take it and desparate for my body, not my emotional mind, to be able to have some relief. I don't expect the pain to magically be taken away by a pill; that is totally unrealistic! I took it and I got this fuzzy headed feeling which I didn't like. Amazing because that is the feeling that I used to chase! I was grateful when that sensation abated. My body was able to breathe! I think having some relief I did too much so I'm hurting today. This medication makes my pain just tolerable and I'm wondering if adding a mild opiate would give me a better quality of life. I'm not jumping on that train just yet. I want to give myself a couple of days with this medication and see if doing less is all I need to do. One day, one moment at a time. This is all new to me. Every time I have taken the muscle relaxer I have called my mom and checked in with her, told her how I was feeling physically and emotionally and how much I was taking. I am being completely honest and accountable. What a life I live!

Peanut Butter is sick. He's not deathly ill by any stretch of the imagination. Just sick enough for me to worry :) A touch of a respiratory infection. Two weeks of antibiotics and he'll be fine. If only my medical crap was that simple. I'd be lost without that little guy. Oh wait, he's not so little. He weighs in at 2.85lbs! My man's dog weighs 4.4lbs. My guinea pig is almost as big as his toy poodle! Craziness. It's also crazy that my manly man would be soooo in love with an apricot toy poodle :)

In the kitchen: Made some YUMMY zuccini carrot muffins. The recipe is adapted from Joy the Baker. I came up with a way to sweeten them without using any sugar. I wish I had pictures of them. Actually, I haven't eaten them all so I can still take a picture. They are amazingly good.Totally vegan, gluten free and sugar free! I really astonish myself in the kitchen. So here's the goods:

Zuccini Carrot Muffins:

3 cups barley flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt, fine
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
3 tbsps fresh ground flax seeds
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp almond milk with 1/8 tsp apple cider vinegar added to it ("buttermilk")
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp almond extract
2 cups shredded zuccini
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup raisins, divided
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tin or use paper liners (I was able to make 17 muffins). Set aside.

In a blender or a food processor combine 1/4 cup raisins and "buttermilk." Puree until the milk looks brown. Stain mixture thru a fine mesh strainer and discard "pulp." Add enough almond milk to get back to 1/2 cup milk (does that make sense?). Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flax seed meal, "buttermilk," vegetable oil, applesauce and almond extract. Mix thoroughly then add zuccini, carrots, raisins, nuts and sunflower seeds.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together. Make sure all of the flour is thoroughly incorporated into the batter. It might look like you need more liquid but be patient. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins with a standard ice cream scoop and place pan into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. I started checking my muffins at 15 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes then transfer toa wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bad Days

It's been almost a week since I've written here. I'm having a VERY hard time physically. I'm feeling so sick and exhausted all the time. I manage to get out of the house and do one-two things and then I get back in my jammies and lay in bed the rest of the day. Most of the time the one thing I do is a doctor's appointment. In fact, I've got two on Monday, a procedure on Tuesday (not major) and then a different doctor on Wednesday. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I also want to find a pain management doctor. The fact that I'm willing to look for that kind of doctor speaks volumes.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 (my new code for my housemates) seem to always be at each other's throats. They have different styles of communicating and neither one of them seems willing to learn how to effectively communicate with the other one. I'm tired and fed up with both of them trying to convince me to be on "their side." Sometimes I want to sit the both of them down like one would their fighting children. Both are physically older than me yet sometimes I think I'm the only mature adult here.

A dear friend passed away today (4/28). He, along with his wife, would pet-sit Peanut Butter for me whenever I went out of town or was in the hospital. He called Peanut Butter a "little critter," never could remember that he's a boy guinea pig and would give him carrots as big as Peanut Butter is! He also looked at me like a daughter. Don had a daughter diagnosed with BiPolar disorder who committed suicide. I have my own psych stuff and it was almost like Don saw me as a "second chance" to be supportive, understanding and encouraging. He had been sick and I knew he was slowly slipping away. I know that it's only his physical "self" that is gone; his spirit lives on. I will miss his physical presence and I know that I can also talk to him anytime I want to.

Grief isn't easy. I'm grieving my health and my friend. I'm learning tolerance and patience with myself and with the people around me. I am really trying to look at this as a growth opportunity while giving myself the space to be angry and sad and whatever other emotions come up. I'm not really feeling tolerant of other people right now. I guess I'm isolating myself in some ways. I think that it's healthy to a point. I don't want to take my irritability out on those around me. At the same time I don't want to be alone. This is where my man comes in. I love being around him. He's fairly drama-free, he lets me be vent and/or cry and then he says something to crack me up and keep me in reality so to speak. I love that man so much!

No recipes to share. Tomorrow is weigh-in day. No matter what I'm going to be ok. No matter what.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weighty Issues

I've been told that most women have weight issues. I know that I've put weight on since switching from the TSFL program to my allergy restricted diet. I don't know exact numbers but I do know at least 20 pounds. Ugh. I've made a commitment to turn this whole thing around. My lovely sister introduced me to a website MyFitnessPal (thanks Tweedles!) that figured out what my calorie intake needs to be to lose approximately 2 pounds a week. It has a way of inputing my own recipes and figuring out the nutritional information per serving. Neat-o burrito! I'm excited about taking charge of this. My man is also on a journey to health and has joined a gym. I get to go with him for free. On the days that he doesn't go I still go for a 2 mile walk and do toning exercises at home.

Now my focus in the kitchen is not just allergy restricted but healthy. Vegan or vegetarian food isn't necessarily healthy. I figured that out the hard way (the weight that I've put on). Sunday I made the most delicious black bean burgers that are only 118 calories per burger! Packed with veggies too. I'll probably make multiple variations of this one. They also looked pretty legit as a burger. Don't know if I can convince my man to try them. Baby steps with that man. The other day he told me where I can put my habit of drinking at least 2 liters of water a day. He drank that much and claims to have spent the whole day in the bathroom. Total exaggeration I'm sure. I told him that if might be a good idea to start with a goal of just one liter a day and slowly increase the amount. That idea didn't fly. Apparently everything is a competition in his world (he claims it's a man thing but I don't know about that) and he has to at least match how much water I drink. This is going to be fun to watch given that I've drank as much as 6 liters in one day. Is that excessive?

Black Bean Burgers
adapted from the kitchen of Cookin' Canuck

2 1/2 cups black beans, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 cup zuccini, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/4 cup brown rice, cooked
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried cilantro
1/3 cup cornmeal

Saute onion, green pepper and zuccini over medium heat until soft. I use a cast iron skillet and olive oil spray. Add garlic and cumin. Saute for an additional two minutes. Scrape mixture into food processor. Add 1 1/2 cup black beans, rice, lime juice, chipotle pepper, salt, pepper and cilantro. Pulse until beans are more chopped than pureed. Dump mixture into a large bowl. Add reserved beans and cornmeal and stir until combined. Divide the mixture into 10 patties, adding more cornmeal if mixture is too moist to form. Place patties on a plate, using waxed paper to separate layers and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

Heat your skillet over medium heat. Again, I use cast iron. Non-stick is good, especially if you want a good crust. Add the burgers and cook for 4 minutes per side.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oi Vey

I think I spelled that right :) That's how I feel about life right now. The housemates are almost at each other's throats. The one thinks I'm enabling the other and "getting in the middle" when in reality I'm just trying to manage the amount of drama around me. Can't please everybody so I'm out to keep things as simple as possible for myself. Oi vey.

My scones are more like crumbly, dense tea biscuits. Good, but not quite the way that I want them to be. I like the way that they are headed. I will get this recipe right one day. Baking without sugar is possible, it just takes some playing around with ingredients. Heck, cooking in general without sugar takes creativity.

My moving plans might be as set in stone as is possible. Looks like I'll just be moving down the hall to the master bedroom rather than moving down the street. Moving down the hall will be much easier. I really dislike moving. It takes soooooo much effort. At the same time I like moving because I let go of more and more stuff. Letting go of clutter feels great. I just wish it didn't take moving to get me to do it.

Been doing well health-wise so to speak. Back to running daily fevers in the afternoons, have had to take a sleeping pill a couple of nights because of pain (I was actually crying from how much pain I was in which says a lot), feeling lethargic all of the time and staying in my pajamas most of the time. What's good is that I've been getting out of bed and "doing." Gone to the gym a couple of times with my man - he's committed to getting in shape! Also gone on a couple of walks by myself. I can walk 2 miles in 30 minutes! That's pretty impressive for someone who's as sick as I am. Looking at me you would never guess the seriousness of my health problems.

Brain fog is kicking my butt.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy Hump Day

A whole week has gone by. . . what a busy week it's been too. My mom and I have made a game up regarding my housemates. It's more like a bet really. I think my landlady is only going to be accommodating to the new girl for a total of two weeks (one week down, one to go). My mom said a couple days. I'm winning although the end is in sight. Today I woke up to a great debate about Palmetto Bugs. The new girl is terrified of them. Well, she's terrified of a lot. She has a real issue with not using chemicals. I looked up an all natural repellent and I see a difference but it's not "good enough" for the new girl. This morning there was a heated discussion about the bugs. Yesterday the new girl said she doesn't know what to do about the whole situation. I haven't been feeling well and I almost snapped "You have three options: stay here and keep complaining, stay here and accept that these are the house rules or move out." Thank you Goddess for restraint of tongue! There was not much tact in this morning's talk. I put my headphones on. I have no interest in getting in the middle of this. I guess that's my lesson: neither of these women's problems are mine. I can totally detach from all this bull crap and live my life the best I can and set healthy boundries. I just have to remind myself that I am a lady of diginity, respect and integrity and deserve to be treated as such.

Yesterday I told my man that I wear the pants in the relationship. He insists that he's in charge and makes the rules. Ha! I told him that I'm taking over from here on out :) I love the banter between the two of us. He really helps me to stay on the positive side. Now we're talking about him moving in here with me when my landlady moves south rather than me moving into an apartment with him. There are a lot of benefits to staying here. Full kitchen plus a washer/dryer on the premises are two big ones. It's all about finances. My mom, my housemate and I are going to sit down and see if we can make me not moving (beyond moving down the hall to the master bedroom) a possibility. Since I hate moving and this would be the fourth move in as many years I want this to work out too.

My landlady is leaving for 3 1/2 months end of May and I get a break in my rent to take care of her dog. Ah, a little peace and quiet plus more money in the bank. Pretty sweet deal if I say so myself. I also get to dog sit for my man. I love animal energy.

Successes in the kitchen: Crockpot Steel Cut Oatmeal. I can't say enough good stuff about it. Chipotle Guacamole Salsa has some serious kick to it. I adapted the salsa recipe from the Frosted Bake Shop. "Scones" which were more like dense cookies could use some final touches. Need to download pictures off my camera to add to my posts. One thing, one day at a time.

Chipotle Guacamole Salsa

1lb tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and quartered
2 small onions, peeled and quartered
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped or to taste
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 avocado
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed fresh basil
juice of 1 lime
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or to taste

Put all ingredients in blender/food processor in the order listed to prevent the avocado from sticking to the blades. Give it a whirl until desired consistency. Yum!

Obviously I'm a big fan of garlic and chipotle peppers :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


 Ah yes, inconsistency is the fabric of life. My landlady has rented out the second bedroom to an aquaintnance of mine and has decided not to move until at least Christmas. She still has the house on the market if someone wants to rent it. If that happens she will give me 30 days notice. On my end I made it clear that I am still looking for a place to move to but I have no set timeline. The new roomie is a lady I met through my Mom and this lady is DRAMA to the core. She found out I have food allergies and auto-immune dysfunction and declared that we are now best friends and have so much to talk about! Not so much. She is more of someone who I consider a person I can tolerate but don't want to be all buddy-buddy with. I get the feeling that she and Linda are going to get along just fine. Linda plans to be gone all summer again. Wants to know if this new roomie or myself will watch Davi for her. I dunno about that. If that were the case I'd ask for a reduction in my rent. We'll see. My man and I are looking to move in together and we've got some options on the table. He's pretty laid back about the whole thing. I am too. Most of the time :)

Today he asked me why we don't fight. I was totally off guard. It was such a random question. I told him that I didn't have an answer to that. Then because I'm a smartass I asked him if we were supposed to fight. I followed that with the fact that I like that we don't fight. He said he was watching something on TV and was just curious. I suppose the real answer is that we give each other space. I respect when he has a bad day and wants to be left alone and he does the same for me. I'm no expert in relationships but I'm guessing that respecting each other is key.

Yesterday's date in the kitchen produced some yummy homemade fig jam and corn muffins. The jam I created on my own. The muffins are adapted from Madhuram's Eggless Cooking. I stayed pretty true to the recipe. When this batch is gone (which won't take long) I'm going to play with this a little more. I think they came out a little dry. Only my opinion. So I'm not going to post my version just yet.

The fig "jam" was a cinch! I used a cup of snipped dried mission figs (can't find fresh this time of year), a small palmful of chopped dates (less than 1/4 c) and some water. Throw it in a saucepan and let it simmer til you get jam consistency. I used a potato masher to get the consistency I wanted. I didn't measure how much water or take pictures. Next time I think I'll use a spiced tea instead of water for more flavor. Looking forward to the next batch and I will post those results :)

Friday, April 6, 2012


Good news and bad in my world. Can't remember if I wrote about this before so I'll just lay it out briefly: I have to move. My landlady/housemate is moving and wants to rent the whole house. I get the impression that if I stayed and found 2 people to share the house with I would be put in the role of property manager and I am not willing to take on that responsibility. So, I told my man and he said he'd figure it out. Somedays he just wants to swoop in and save me from my troubles :) He's so sweet. I told him I wasn't in need of rescuing. His suggestion was to move in with him and his parents in a townhome. Sounds great in theory. Sat down with his mom and the four of us living together is not going to work. My man and I, maybe, but definitely not the four of us. Found a REALLY spacious one bedroom that I'm going to go look at tomorrow. 650 square feet for under $600! That's a steal! Doesn't include utilities and there's no on-site laundry but that's what mom's house is for :) Love ya mom!

My latest and greatest feat in the kitchen is vegan zuccini bread! Oh wow is it good. Not only is it vegan but there is absolutely no processed sugar! No white sugar, brown sugar or any sugar syrups like agave and maple. That's right, baking without sugar can be done! I never knew that was possible. Thank you allergies for giving me a new way of looking at food preparations. I adapted the recipe from Joy at She has some wonderful recipes on her site and I am loving playing around with them to make them Stephanie-friendly. So, here's my version!

Completely Vegan Zuccini Bread by Stephanie

makes one 8x4 loaf

3 cups barley flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg (fresh is awesome but store-bought ground is good too!)
pinch of cloves (I believe I put in somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons ground flax seed (I bought whole seeds at Richard's Foodporium and ground it myself)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon soy milk with a splash (approx 1/8 teaspoon) of white vinegar (this is in place of the buttermilk)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
10 whole pitted dates
1 cup raisins, divided
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups shredded zuccini
3/4 cup sunflower seeds

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8x4 inch loaf pan (I used olive oil spray to grease the pan and it worked wonderfully!) Set aside.

In a food processor or blender (I used a mason jar fitted with the blender blades rather than the big blender pitcher) combine the applesauce, dates and 1/4 cup raisins. Puree the heck out of it. You're looking for a smooth consistency. It'll look like baby food :)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices and flax meal. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, applesauce/dried fruit puree and almond extract. Mix thoroughly then add the zuccini and sunflower seeds.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together. Make sure all of the flour is thoroughly incorporated. It'll look like it needs more liquid but just be patient. The batter will be thick. Spoon batter into prepared pan, cover it with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes and remove the foil. Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes more or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Almond Butter

Ok, this stuff is TOTALLY addicting! I could sit and eat a whole jar of it. I've checked out a bunch of different recipes and this one I adapted from a recipe for pumpkin spiced almond butter (that recipe can be found here). Naturally, I cut out the sugar and simplified it to a basic but butter. I want to play with it and make chocolate almond butter but right now, I'm keeping it simple :)

Almond Butter

2 cups almonds
pinch sea salt
canola oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees farenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil if desired. Spread almonds on pan and stick those bad boys in the oven. Give'em about 10-15 minutes in there and they will start to smell wonderfully nutty. That's how you know they're done :) Take them out and let them cool 20-30 minutes. You want the almonds to still be slightly warm. Throw the warm nuts into your food processor, turn it on and watch the maggic begin. I use a Ninja so I have to stand there and hold the button down but it is sooooo worth it. Let the machine run until the nuts "butterize," which is past the stage where they look like a ball of cookie dough rolling around in there. Take the lid off, smell the yummy goodness and add the salt and oil if you want. Sometimes I use oil, sometimes I don't. It all depends on the consistency I want. Put the top back in place, push the "on" button and keep on processing until you get the butter to the desired consistency. There ya go. Almond Butter! Variations to follow. .  eventually :)

My latest and greatest

Start with the bad, end with the good: I can't stand my housemate! Oh, it feels sooooo darn good to say that. I have been trying to convince myself for months that I like her. Now, it's like I have FREEDOM from pushing myself to like someone who I don't. Right now, I'm getting some kind of sick pleasure from allowing myself to feel the dislike. I was taught growing up that some emotions were off-limits and it feels good when it isn't off-limits anymore. The good: she has decided to move and rent the house out. I can't come close to affording the rent here on my own and that's ok with me. My man and I had already started talking about sharing an abode and now Goddess presents me with an opportunity to see if that is something that will be an option. No move date, just that it will likely happen in the next couple months. I will miss being on the lake and the bathtub. Sounds silly to miss a bathtub but it's a garden tub and so awesome for bubble baths :)

Medical crap: My doctor neglected to tell me that she changed what medication I am getting in my IV! She neglected to tell my nurse too! Argh! No wonder I'm looking for a second opinion from someone who is closer to me. It's just a matter of submitting paperwork to get the consult appointment. It's always paperwork that holds up progress.

My housemate feels inconvenienced with I use the kitchen (she has some serious control issues!) so my playing around has been limited. Still working on pics to post. I really, really want the Easter Bunny to put a high-quality digital camera in my Easter basket. I don't know if that'll happen but a girl can hope.

Write this day (well, yesterday) down in the history books. I got my man to try tofu AND he liked it! Even wants me to make more. He tried my eggless egg salad. Next will likely be something that has less fat (veganaise is just as fatty as mayonaise. I cut it with hummus but still. . .) and just as much flavor. Oh, I forgot already. Today goes down in history too! He joined a gym and added me to his account so I can go for free! If you knew my man you would know how astonishing this is. He has made it a point to tell me over and over that he is a "lazy, fat asshole." His words, not mine. Ok. Not totally true. I have called him lazy. But only because it's the truth. Now, he's ready to make some changes to his eating habits and lifestyle. Amazing how being a living example works miracles! I'll be his biggest cheerleader too because I love him and because it will help keep me motivated too.

Just got a crappy phone call. Ugh. I don't want to talk about it. So, I just sat for half an hour and organized my recipes. That was soothing. To celebrate, I'm going to post a recipe today! Toodles Noodles!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Busy Busy Bee

Wow, I've been busy. New IV medication and I am wiped out! Don't really have the energy to blog but I wanted to give it a try. Oh boy, I'm losing focus. Made AMAZING tofu burgers on Monday. Didn't take pictures :( Of course, it's a twist on a recipe I found on Pinterest. Whoever founded that sight is a genius! I've found so much inspiration there. I told my mom I wanted a higher quality camera for Easter so I can take pics of all of my creations.

Realized I'd been talking about numbers a lot. The numbers on the scale and on my clothing tags. Why such focus? Damn eating disorder. It finally occured to me that I was killing myself with stress if the number on the scale didn't stay EXACTLY the same week to week. Such an unrealistic expectation. Weight is not static. So I haven't gotten on the scale in two weeks except at the doctor's office. According to their scales, I've gained 20 pounds. But my clothes still fit well and my weight stayed steady over the last week. Eye-opener ~ nobody is going to love me any more or any less if I gain or lose 20 pounds. And if I lose 20 pounds, "Frank" (my eating disorder. nice to have a name to cuss out on occasion. gives a face to the problem) will tell me that if I lost 20 more pounds then I would be happy, more beautiful, more loveable. That "perfect" number would never be attained because the number would keep getting lower and lower and I would never be "perfect." Jeez. I decided I'd rather be happy than killing myself emotionally with trying to get to the "perfect" weight or clothing size. I'm not totally surprised about the gain but it's ok. I'm still adjusting to this new diet.

New diet! Back to recipes! Found one for a cake that uses COOKED quinoa rather than any flour. OMG! I tried it but didn't adjust the amount of cocoa powder based on not using sugar or sugar substitutes. Now that was some dark chocolate cake. It had a serious bite to it. Not what I want in a cake. My mind is playing with this concept because the cake was really really moist and had a great texture. I'm thinking an almond cake with homemade almond butter swirls and maybe some chopped dates. Doesn't that sound delish? Next baking day I am going for this. Also on my to do list food wise is vegan zuccini bed. Again, the recipe calls for sugar so I've got some adjustments to make there. I'm sure that I can do it.

Absolutely tired of going to the damn doctor. Every day Monday through Friday I have to trek to Pinnellas Park. Hopefully I'll only have to do this for 8 more days and then I'll be able to do the infusions at home. Hope, hope, hope! Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I love Pinterest! Thank you Aunt Peggie for introducing me to the site. For those who don't know, Pinterest is a website where people post "pins" of prints, do-it-yourself projects, recipes, just about anything. The pins are usually pictures from websites and if you click on the pin it takes you to the source! I have invested a lot of time on that site and have had some great and some not-so-great results when trying things out.

Great results: almond butter, almond milk, rice milk, broiled tofu, tofu scrambles, pretty much anything tofu, shower cleaner, stain remover, and several household "hacks." Not-so-great results: vegan lentil chili. Yeah, so far I think that's the only one. It came out like refried beans with mushy lentils and is as bland as can be. I don't think there is saving this recipe. Usually I can play around with recipes and craft them so that I like the results but I think this one is truly a lost cause. I guess I'll use the leftovers (which is a heck of a lot!) as refried beans or maybe make it into bean burgers or something. My creative juices will start flowing and they will prevail!

On the homefront, my housemate is a huge pain. I know it's her house but everything is her way or the highway. As of today, I choose the highway. She doesn't understand why, when she's home, I am in my room. The reason is simple: I don't have any peace anywhere in the house except in my room and not always then! If I'm out in the "public areas" she is always talking to me. I'll put my headphones on and she still talks to me and doesn't understand why I don't hear her. Ugh. I decided to try being out in the common area when she's home (right now) and as I sit here typing she is trying to engage me in conversation. I was sitting out in the kitchen when she got home and she made a comment about how I'm out of my room. I don't think she realizes that her comments are hurtful when she is trying to help.She says she doesn't want "group living", i.e. compromising on the common areas, but it seems like she absolutely craves companionship. Right now, I don't want to be a companion to someone who's 40-odd years my senior.

Plus she's a counselor. Everytime I try to talk with her about how I feel about a situation in the house she starts to counsel me on how I need to work through my feelings and doesn't address her side of the street. Lately, she's had an issue with me cooking. I've explained to her several times that playing in the kitchen is a coping mechanism for me. Early this morning she "confronts" me, telling me that I'm in the kitchen morning, noon and night and if I'm not in the kitchen, I'm in my room and it's a huge inconvenience for her. Seven a.m. is never a good time to talk with me, even if I've had 12 hours of sleep, but it was especially so this morning because I hadn't had enough sleep plus I started a new IV med yesterday and I feel super sick. I told her I would be more mindful of her needs in the kitchen and she told me that wasn't good enough. I am so glad that I learned how to walk away but boy, I was pissed! I walked into the bathroom and guess what greeted me? Yup, a palmetto bug. That's it, I'm done. No need for a quick exit but I am starting to make plans and will find another living arrangement soon, hopefully with my man. One day at a time.

Enough of my soap box regarding my housemate. I was talking with a friend about all of this and she made a damn good point. A year and a half ago there was no way that I could've managed this situation with my housemate, my health and an intimate relationship. She said that I was doing phenomenal. Wow. The really amazing part is that I agree with her! Physically I feel like crap but I'm also in great shape. My body is soooo resilient considering all of the medications that were/are being pumped into my system plus all of the toxins that the lyme and co-infections are putting out. I am truly in great shape for the shape that I'm in. My drama queen of a doctor is getting to be too much so I'm looking for a local doctor. Hopefully that'll happen soon.

Staying in today: my man and I had a serious conversation about moving in together. A mature, adult, respectful, calm conversation. Now, that's a miracle. I had a proposition for him and now I'm letting him think about it. I am sooo impatient, I want him to answer TODAY! I also know that that is such an unrealistic expectation. And so I wait :) I realize that I am ready for this chapter in my life to end and for a new one to start. I was one of those readers who would speed-read (translation: skim over the words and have just a surface knowledge of what I read) because I was so excited and anxious to know what was happening next. I am learning to slow my reading down (figuratively and literally) and I am getting so much more out of it! But I can still be quite impatient. I think that might be "normal." Gasp!

Oh, it feels so good to vent!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekend warrior?

Ah, St Patrick's Day. The one day of the year when my insane drinking was celebrated, even encouraged! Grateful that I don't have to drink to celebrate my lineage. Grateful I don't drink, period. Grateful to be me!

Made a big yet delicious ooops yesterday. My man took me to the county fair and I decreed it a "free" day which means I ate fair food. I had an elephant ear for the first time (totally better than funnel cake) that was lathered in liquid butter and caked with powdered sugar. Oh sooo good! I also had a chocolate peanut butter milkshake. Man, I was itchy! Today I had the consequences. Ugh. Hopefully I'll remember today the next time I want to have a "free" day. Unfortunately, pain has no memory. We'll see.

Haven't been playing in the kitchen the past couple days. I probably should play around some tonight. But I don't feel like it. Tomorrow is a marathon movie day but I just don't feel like cooking tonight so that I have food tomorrow. Special diets can seriously suck. Going out to eat is not easy with all the dietary restrictions. Ugh. I am looking forward to the movies. It's the final day of the Sarasota Jewish Film Festival. I love expanding on the history that I learned in high school and college.

Monday or Tuesday I'll be starting a new IV med. The doctor says that it's pretty toxic and she can't risk me having a reaction at home. Translation: I have to travel one hour each way to the doctor's office for the infusion five days a week. Ugh. Not looking forward to that but if it makes me feel better. . . My hair is still falling out. Today, someone noticed (for the first time). Not cool but what's a lady to do? Wear scarves? I did today because I had one that has shamrocks on it. That's right, representing my celtic heritage :) My man thinks my blood should be green since I have lyme disease. He know's that it's spelled with a "y" but he says that lyme is a color no matter how it's spelled. I told him that I'll work on that. In the meantime I would just wear green. I love his craziness because he keeps me laughing and that helps me get through. He teases me relentlessly, says that that's how I know he loves me. When I turn the tables on him it gets truly hilarious! Oh how I love that man.

Posted my first recipe! Almond butter. That stuff is totally addictive! Next up is posting pictures and then pinning those pics on Pinterest and maybe getting people to follow my blog instead of it being just me reading all of this!

Tomorrow I'll hopefully got to the local Buddhist Temple for services. Waiting on a phone call to find out where it is located.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pure Craziness

That's exactly how I feel about the world today. Especially the grocery world. I had NO clue that I had to read every single freaking label. Who would've thought that a bag of plain, all-natural, raw almonds would have a peanut allergy warning on it? I sure didn't. Until after I ate some of the offending almonds and my eyes started itching and my throat started to feel like it was closing. Ugh. So now I read everything. Amazing how even dried fruit has an allergy warning for peanuts, milk and soy. Jeez. Having food allergies is pure craziness.

My infectious disease doctor is a huge drama queen. She read the results of the MRI of my parathyroids and told me I needed surgery to take the thyroid and the parathyroids out and I needed to be admitted into the hospital stat. Well. Good thing that I've learned not to panic when it comes to my medical stuff. I got a copy of the results and I just about laughed! I'm no doctor but I know a thing or two about how to interpret imaging results (it's easier when the radiologist summarizes it). THe report said that the results were "suboptimal" and recommended following up with a nuclear scan. So I got a seond opinion from my primary care, told her what I thought and she agreed. She ordered the nuclear scan :) I think I'm in the market for a new infectious disease doc. I'm into a reduced drama life.

Oh and then there's the palmetto bugs. People who don't live in Florida know them as cockroaches. Not the littler german kind. Nope. The big ones that were in that scene towards the end of "Men In Black." Ugly big things. Like at least an inch long. Ewwwww. They are so common here in Florida that calling them "palmetto bugs" just sounds nicer. But it's right up there with "a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet." A roach by any other name is just as disgusting. Now keeping these ugly buggers out of the house is fairly simple. A bug guy comes out 3-4 times a year, sprays some stuff both inside and outside the domicile and no bug problem. Here's the pure craziness part: my lovely housemate does not believe in using chemical pesticides inside or outside. She's concerned for her dog's health. Are you kidding me?! Peanut Butter, the best little (well, fat) guinea pig in the world, isn't bothered in the least by those chemicals and crawls around on the floor to (when I'm nice enough to let him). The natural stuff to repel the bugs don't work. The end result is that I see evidence of the bugs on the dishes, in my cooking pans, in my pantry cabinets, in my bathroom and crawling amongst my clothes. And don't open the dishwasher at night because they are crawling around in there too! Seriously, that is sooooo gross. I'm so glad that my boyfriend (the amazing Terry) has extended an exit strategy: he asked me to move in with him. First he has to move out of the apartment he shares with his parents. My exit strategy does not have a set date :( Maybe (hopefully!) in July. Until then, patience and tolerance with the pure craziness in my house.

Not sure how my food pictures are going to turn out. My camera is not the best money can buy. Well, it's the best my money can buy. At least I can tell you how my food adventures are coming along. I'm still working on my savory yeast-free bread recipe. It's a work in progress. Almond milk is easy to make. I learned how to blanch almonds! Not sure if I like it better than rice milk. Homemade rice milk is on the "to do" list for today. It looks easy to make as well. Found a recipe for soy milk but I'm thinking of sticking with store bought. Almond butter. Yum! Can't say enough good stuff about that. Finding a good recipe through trial and error. Big error: using raw almonds. I ended up with ground almonds. I guess if I continued to process them I would have almond flour but I didn't go that route. Small error: letting the almonds cool completely after roasting them. I'm no science geek but I'm pretty sure this has something to do with the oils in the nuts. Maybe a research project some day. When life isn't pure craziness!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Busy Day

Some days I truly amaze myself. Over the past day, I blew my own mind! Who knew that I could be so crafty and creative plus spacey? Apparently my subconscious did and it put me to work :) I made some superb almond butter (pictures and recipe to follow eventually). Next time, I'm gonna try for chocolate almond butter.

Then, I made body wash. Again, pictures and recipe will appear here eventually :) Not having a camera with a removable memory card is a bit of a pain but worth it in the long run 'cause the pharmacy downloads the pics and gives me a CD of them for FREE for life! Thank you Mom. She's the reason I couldn't take pictures of my cooking adventure tonight. I let her borrow the camera so she could take pictures of herself, her man and their friend in their Purim costumes. The theme for the party this year is Purim in Paris and they are dressed up as the Three Musketeers. I helped with the finishing touches on the costumes. The guys borrowed my All Hallow's Eve wigs, one of them being black and purple striped. I can't wait to see the pictures! I thought about going dressed as a flapper but it didn't fit into my schedule. Oh darn. But onto my other adventures.

Made chocolate quinoa breakfast cereal this morning. No recipe because I just eye-balled it but I'm sure I'll get it written down eventually :) Oh! I made my first loaf of yeast-free bread yesterday PLUS made my own oat flour. Chewy, dense and oh so delicioso! Recipe needs to be played with. I truly believe in creativity in the kitchen. Following recipes to the letter can be so dull. Not everything can be improved upon but it is fun to try. I think my bread recipe is going to be a mix of some that I've found online.

The creativity continued: made pan-fried tofu tonight. Corn meal, cayene pepper, paprika, garlic and salt. Cooking spray in the cast iron and cook away! Throw on a little Veganaisse and that was some darn good eatin'! Sauteed veggies on the side. Oh boy, oh girl. No picture because my mom had the camera. Next time!

My next project is homemade almond milk. The recipes I found online are pretty straight forward. The challenge is that they all called for honey, agave nectar, maple syrup or vanilla extract. Would you believe that vanilla extract is made with corn syrup?! I've got lemon, almond, cherry and peppermint extract and none of them have corn syrup in them, just the vanilla. Then, all the recipes online for homemade vanilla extract call for vanilla beans and vodka or rum. I don't drink so I'm not buying liquor just to make vanilla extract. Guess I'll have to go the expensive route and use whole vanilla beans but since I don't already have them, this is going to be a totally plain version of almond milk. Trust me, I'll document the results, for better or for worse :) I've read that the almond "grit" that results from making almond milk can be dried and them further processed into almond flour. Interesting thought, don't ya think?

I'm also radioactive today which might account for all the creativity flowing through my veins. Just kidding! The creativity is probably a result of anxiety. I'm radioactive because I am having a nuclear scan done of my throid over the next 24 hours (well, the process started this morning and the last picture gets taken tomorrow morning). I won't stay radioactive for long. That's almost a bummer!

No walk today. Too much going on and in too much pain. I need a back-y-otomy because my whole spine hurts. Tomorrow is a new day.

Don't take life so darn seriously. Nobody gets out alive!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Beginings

So, first day of blogging. I feel like this is a bit of a public diary. Let me know if I go into oversharing :) I'm still putting together what I want to include here but I figured getting started was the way to go. Today's a great day. Started out with a 1.7 mile walk and making some amazing Stephanie-friendly bread! Those who know me know that going for a walk, especially one of that distance, has not been possible for quite some time. Lyme has made a huge impact on me. I think I maybe, might, possibly could have gone into remission! Don't want to celebrate too soon though.

This week is the first week on this food plan. Found out on Monday about all my food allergies and this food plan is drastically different from the one I was doing to lose weight. It feels odd and I must say that I am soooo scared that I am going to put weight back on. The allergist said that I might do that the first month but that after all the allergens are out of my system I will go back to losing weight so long as I follow the food plan and use portion control. Being a recovering bulemic (yes, I have no issue with sharing that rkind of personal information), this is quite scary. I spent a lot of time, energy and effort into losing 150lbs. I am literally half the woman I used to be and I really think I could stand to lose 10-15 more pounds to get comfortably in the healthy BMI range for someone my height. Being open about my fears, concerns (which I guess are the same thing), stumbles and all of the successes are going to be quite healing and healthy for me. Thank you for joining my journey here as I continue on my journey to health.

Have already made some amazing Stephanie-friendly food and I will share pictures and recipes ASAP. I get a lot of inspiration from pins on Pinterest and if I have a link to the recipe I've adapted I will give credit where credit is due. Honesty really is the best policy! Until next time, hugs & love! ~Stephanie