Monday, March 31, 2014

March Update

I haven't posted in awhile!  March revolved around my new diet, preparing for my chocolate class, and working on our co-op yearbook.  Then there were the usual things like homeschooling, housecleaning, and life!  I feel bad that we didn't have company over more, but I was adjusting to a major lifestyle change.  We did manage to have my brother and two nephews last Saturday, but other than that, our company has been sparse.

My Health
I am more comfortable with a restricted diet and have discovered a few new recipes that I actually love.  I'll try to share them soon.  I have begun reintroducing foods with little adverse effect.  Moderation will probably be key.  It appears that I will be able to control my arthritis this way.  My only uncomfortable symptom is that my feet hurt more when we leave the house.  At home, I am in slippers on carpet, which provides adequate padding for my arthritic feet.  When we go into town, I'm wearing boots with less padding and walking on hard surfaces.  But I feel this is a small price to pay for feeling good every other way and being medication free.

Homeschooling is going well.  Some days we have a lighter schedule, but no matter what, I am making Algebra top priority.  It is definitely Kylen's hardest subject.  His last violin session was a coffee shop concert on St. Patrick's Day.  Any further progress he makes on that instrument will be self-taught.  He will continue to have piano lessons until summer.  German and our state studies are going well.  We should complete our history read-alouds and Greek/Latin roots early.

We stopped attending our church before Christmas, not for anything bad that happened.  We just could not seem to find our niche there.  For several Sundays, we have been listening to online messages by Francis Chan (Thank you, Katrina!!), which usually run about an hour each.  I've been very spiritually moved by his sermons.  His "give it all" style has convicted me.  I like his humility, sense of humor, love for Jesus, and the incredible stories about his life.  We've been listening on youtube.

Well, that's what's been going on with us.  Nothing too exciting!  I probably won't be very active for the next two months, as our co-op just started back up.  My chocolate class and the yearbook are going to keep me pretty busy, but I'll try to drop in from time to time.  :-)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

LEGO Boxing Match

A year ago, I walked Kylen through a fun little photoshop lesson and never posted the picture!  Kylen built the boxing ring out of legos, I took the pictures, and he did the editing.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sunshine Tag

Laura was kind enough to tag me with Sunshine!  I was getting so many tags a few years ago that I couldn't keep up and decided to stop participating in them.  But I think it's about time I did one!

I'm supposed to nominate other bloggers to answer questions, but I think I'll skip that part and just enjoy the answering portion.  :-)

First a picture:

This is a chalk drawing of Yoda Kylen did when he was five years old.  Not bad, huh?

1. Favorite thing to do on Friday night?

Watch a new blockbuster movie with Sonshine and Hubby, especially action or thriller.

2. What is your favorite movie line?

Wow.  I probably quote most often from Pride and Prejudice, but I can't think of a favorite line!

3. Android or Apple iOS?

I don't have either but would go with Apple.

4. Favorite game?

Strategy Game: Probably Catan.  Video Game: Smash Bros Melee.  Party Game: Apples to Apples

5. Do you like Coconut popcorn?

Never tried it!

6. Favorite Blog?

Would it be poor taste to say my own?  And that way, no feelings get hurt.  People will just think I'm lacking in humility.  ;-)

7. Favorite candy?

Original Cadbury Egg

8. What kind of car do you drive?

I don't drive!

9. Favorite place to live?

Right here.  =)

10. If someone wrote a book about your life, what would they title it?

Adventures in Fairyland

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Flash of Red

What is that flash of red?



Wednesday, March 5, 2014


First, a quick update on my health.  Praise the Lord, my weird bladder symptom is greatly reduced.  I even had a day or two when it didn't bother me at all.  And so far my arthritis hasn't flared up more than mild stiffness in all my joints.  (Although I may need to get used to having sore feet!)


I've been wanting to do a post about blessings during this last round of health struggles, because there are always blessings with trials.  We can't always see them, but they are there!

A biggie: no side effects!  There were many I'd gotten used to living with, and it's nice not to have them anymore.  This last medication caused a lot of unpleasant problems associated with digestion.  I think both medications affected my eyes, and it's wonderful having sharp vision back, especially for an artistic person.

My optimal mental state is medication free.  I am happier, more relaxed, think more clearly, able to concentrate better, and just . . . more myself!  Recently, I've been responding or reacting in ways that reminded me of my personality before illness.  It's been neat, kinda like getting to know myself again.

I have more compassion for people with food allergies or who need to restrict their diet for health reasons.

I'm discovering new foods from shopping at health stores.  Huckleberries has an incredible chocolate selection!  (Which I can't eat right now but am hoping to down the road.)

The boys are eating healthier by default.  Last night, we had baked halibut, rice pilaf, and a veggie.  I wouldn't normally cook fish at home.

Another big plus is weight loss.  I lost around 10 pounds the first week without any effort.  I'm hoping to be back down to my college weight by the end of the month, which would be another 10-15 pounds.

There are also little details to be thankful for such as having this diet fall mostly during a month-long break from co-op.  I have a chocolate class on the spring schedule, and it would have been pretty annoying if I couldn't sample what I was giving to my students!  The bladder problem has forced me to sit less, which has been good.  With my sore feet, I would have been tempted to sit most of the day.  This way, I know I can still do a lot around the house even with stiff feet.

Thank you to all who have prayed for me and are praying.  :-)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Elimination Diet

Otherwise known as the anti-inflamatory diet or the so-restricted-you-can't-believe-it diet.  ;-)  For one month, I must avoid:

*Vegetables from the nightshade family - potatoes, green peppers, tomatoes
*Gluten - in most bread, cereal, pasta, crackers
*Starch - wheat, oat, spelt, kamut, rye, barley, malt
*Red meat, eggs, cold cuts, sausages, hot dogs
*Dairy products
*Strawberries and citrus
*Tea, coffee, cocoa
*Margarine, shortening, butter, refined oils, vinegar
*Peanuts, pistachios
*Sweeteners - white and brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, corn syrup, fructose

At the end of a month, I can add one prohibited food at a time for three days to see how it affects my body.

What worked well last week was to make a soup that I had for one meal each day.  Another meal was sort of a taco salad.  I ate a lot of cauliflower, because it's easy to make and the only vegetable I love to eat by itself (ok, not quite by itself - I added a butter substitute and sea salt).  Breakfast was usually a smoothie.  The first few days were pretty rough.  I was spending a lot of time researching recipes.  Poor Greg has had to take me shopping to health stores further away than usual, and we've had to do a lot more food preparation and dishes.  But after a week on the diet, I'm feeling more positive and learning to like new flavors that weren't very palatable to me at first.  For example, I now like agave syrup enough to use it daily as my primary sweetener.

Several years ago when my health was very poor, there was a lady who asked if she could come clean for me.  She considered it a blessing to serve and only accepted enough money to cover her gas and cleaning supplies.  I think it was she who brought me a batch of this soup and gave me the recipe.  It also called for two tablespoons of tomato paste and 1/2 cup green beans, both to be added with the cabbage.  But I can't have tomato and don't care much for green beans in soup.

Vegetable Soup
2 med. carrots, sliced
1 med. onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth (tried 4)
1 1/2 cups diced green cabbage (or coleslaw mix)
1 tsp. dried basil or cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup diced zucchini or squash (try squash next time)
Small frozen shrimp, thawed

Put some olive oil in the pan.  Saute carrot, onion, celery, and garlic over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, cabbage, and seasonings; simmer, covered about 15 minutes.

Stir in zucchini and shrimp; heat several minutes until zucchini is soft.  Serve hot.

Vanilla Smoothie
1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp. plain cashews
1 tbsp. almond butter
4 pitted dates, chopped
1 tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. ground flax seeds
1 tsp. vanilla
6 ice cubes

Put everything in the mixer; blend until smooth.  I don't know that I'd want to drink this every morning, but it's pretty good.  I leave out the ice, because cold smoothies aren't appealing to me first thing in the morning.

Rice Cake & Apples
Plain unsalted brown rice cakes with almond butter
Sliced apple

I alternate taking a bite of the rice cake and then a bite of the apple.  The juicy apple helps the dry, sticky rice cake go down!  Lol!

Rice & Shine
We found a box of this at Safeway.  It's similar to cream of wheat, only grainier.  I like cream of wheat and cream of rice better, but I think I'll be able to get used to having this for breakfast regularly.  Lots of things can be added: milk substitute, fruit, nuts, agave nectar.  I stirred in raisins, a butter substitute, and some brown rice syrup.  Not too bad!

This recipe was adequate for meeting my craving for a dessert.  The corn-free baking powder I tried was disgusting.  It had a terrible odor and gave the muffins a weird taste.  Next time I make it, I'm going to try omitting the baking powder.  I'm guessing the "heaviness" won't bother me much.  I'm also going to try a different fruit, maybe frozen cherries.  I enjoyed the muffins in almond milk with agave nectar for added sweetness.

Great Site
I'm slowly working my way through some recipes on this site.  I typed "elimination diet phase 1" in their search box to help me find some of the dishes I could have.