Sunday, July 26, 2015

Multiple health issues going on right now... Only online in spurts bit mainly reading, no posting/formulating sentences. Scared that stress will bring on another migraine...i hate going to the ER so much. Anyhow, I am not ignoring anyone, just really limited.

(Today is the first day I've been on the computer or been able to watch anything since Monday - it's been really insane.)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Support a Young Artist!

This is a self portrait by my sister. It’s one of my favorite pieces by her, and I’m thrilled that she’s decided to enter it in Blick Art’s “The Art of Portraiture” contest. I’d love to help her get a boatload of votes!
She’s embarking on that scary adventure - becoming a self-sustaining artist. It would be a huge confidence booster for her if she won the DickBlick “Art of Portraiture” contest, plus the art supplies would be hugely appreciated. 
So if you’re interested in supporting a young artist as she begins her career, please consider going and voting for her! You can vote once per day for the next week. It would mean a lot to both of us!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Books, More books, and other stuff.

So. What's up? Summer. A hot summer. Sure, Texas would laugh at us, but it has been very humid up here as well, so it really has been quite intense for us Minnesotans.


Nathan and I got bikes! Of course, once we got them, the heat ramped up and my health ramped down and so I haven't done as much as I'd like. Nathan goes out and has solo adventures though.


I opened a new etsy store! I can run my embroidery machine while doing other sewing stuff, so I thought I'd try and make some money off of it - all part of trying to get me off deadline work so that I can be less stressed when my health delays things. I'm really excited about all the cute designs I've got up on my tea towels! Go check out Whimsical Kitchen here for all of your unique dish towel needs.


Summer is book binging time as well. Ironically I've made two big hauls in the past two weeks. I say ironically, because I just got Amazon Unlimited as well, so I'm overflowing in books! The stack above is from two weeks ago - love love love Half Price Books!


Today my sister and I went to the Half Price Books Tent Sale and both spent about $20 getting some good stuff. We also sniffed around the local street festival that was going on and compared the art pieces to what my sister is creating in her studio. (She just wrote a post on being an art student, which I think is pretty interesting.)


As you can see, I had more luck in the YA section than the adult section. This is mostly because the YA stuff was cheaper, so I could get more!

And since it was blazing hot again today, and we had to park aways away because of the street fair traffic, I am exhausted. Over and out!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Are You Watching "Poldark"?

I love it when both Nathan and I get equally obsessed with a show. We did with "Wolf Hall" (Actually, Nathan was even more into it than I was, probably because I already knew what was going to happen!), and now we're doing it with PBS's newest import, "Poldark."


We don't have TV, so we watch it online the day after it airs. This means I'm currently awaiting Nathan's return from work tonight to see episode four - so no spoilers!!!

Anyhow, my synopsis of the plot thus far is this: after the Revolutionary War, Ross Poldark returns to his home in Cornwall, England, to find his father dead and his fiance engaged to another. Against all advice, he determines to revive the family estate, do right by his father's tenants, and reopen his family's mine. At his side is the spunky young serving maid, Demelza, but will her encouragement and Ross's strong will be enough for him to stand against those arrayed against him?

This is the second BBC show of the name. The first was aired in the '70's and was also based on the "Poldark" novels by Winston Graham. I'm dying to dig into reading the novels (which are on Amazon Unlimited!) but am resisting the urge until we've at least watched the first season. I want to get through season one unspoiled, so that Nathan and I continue to be on the same page.

And yes, Poldark himself is played by Aiden Turner, whom you may recognize as "that hot young dwarf" from "The Hobbit."

It is a grown-up show in tone, but since it aired on PBS it is pretty appropriate as far as what you see/hear. (Characters tend to use the curse "Judas" a lot, which I've never heard used before). There is some immorality, but framed in such a way as to never appear a right or honorable choice - and so far there is no gratuitous nudity or anything more than the briefest beginnings of a sex scene. (I don't know if the original BBC broadcast contained more).

This is the perfect time to jump into the show, as the first four episodes are all up on PBS for free - BUT episode 1 is due to expire on the 19th, so get thyself a'watching!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

20 Lbs off

Remember when I wrote this post about my weight? Well, today I got on the scale and I was 20 pounds lighter than I was in January - and I achieved it without having a regular exercise regime, counting calories, or going hungry (mostly.)

Yes, folks, between the end of March and today, I've lost 20 pounds. I'm nearly back to my college weight, and while I need to get more of my waist and belly fat off (because it's an indicator of other health problems, not because I want a flat tummy), I'm in a better place than I ever thought I could be without being able to exercise.

How did this happen? Well, with all the joint pain I've had this year, my mother suggested that I go on Dr. Hyman's "10 Day Detox" to see if it would help relieve my inflammation. I cannot say enough good things about this program. Yes, you spend 10 days on an extremely strict regime, but it tastes good, and you don't go hungry (except sometimes before going to bed, since eating must stop 3 hours before bedtime).

The principle of the diet is taking out all forms of sugar - we (my husband joined me) didn't even allow ourselves Stevia during the first 10 days. So almost no fruit, no dairy or potatoes grains or beans, and even some vegetables are forbidden (beets, sweet potatoes and peas) because of their high glycemic index. Doing this for 10 days resets your body's insulin and glucose and can actually reverse diabetes.

(You ARE allowed lots of good stuff, like nuts, eggs, lean meat, berries and most vegetables).

It was hard during the initial detox phase. We had cravings, we were grumpy and tired, and the first few days were just not fun. But the book had warned us about this, and sure enough, by about day 5 we were feeling lots better, and I had more energy than I'd had in years. Plus we were losing almost a pound a day!

Let me restate - you do NOT go hungry. Sugar spikes your hunger, but once you reset your body, you are satisfied with much smaller, healthier portions. (If you want more science, read the book, it explains it MUCH better than I do.)

After the initial 10 days, we decided to keep following many of the principles of the diet. Eliminating so many foods helped me identify a few other allergens - so I've removed nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers), avacados, onions, and strawberries from my diet. As you can imagine, seasonings in food has become a NIGHTMARE. However, my joint pain has become more manageable (although it still prohibits some activities), so for now I'm sticking with that. I have to cook nearly all my own food, but it's almost easier, now that I'm not even worrying about grains most of the time.

However, this strictness means that we are more lenient about allowing goat dairy, beans, and the occasional honey/maple syrup back into our diet. Thankfully I can have garlic powder (though not raw garlic), and black pepper and all the herbs and non-pepper spices are fine. I was concerned that the fat in the goat dairy might inhibit my weight loss, but I've continued to loose about a pound a a week!

I thought it was going to be harder to give up my fruit juice than it was. Turns out, lemon water sweetened with stevia satisfies the cravings too without doing havoc on your insulin. And I'm amazed at how many meals I have that don't have any grains at all!

The one "cheat" food I have is salad dressing. Even though I buy the healthiest stuff I can find, it is impossible not to have a little sugar in there. But the amount of salad I consume makes more of a positive difference in my health than the itty bit of sugar (real sugar, not HFCS) is negative.

Healthy foods like kombucha, sprouts and yes, turnips have become surprisingly appealing to me. Our favorite snacks are cucumbers dipped in kalamata hummas, and mushrooms roasted with coconut oil and salt. I stopped eating tuna and started eating sardines... which I love even more!

I've lost 2 inches from my waist, 2 inches from my belly, and almost 3 inches from my hips. I've already had to take some clothes in, and I'm hoping to fit into some of my old jeans by fall! And since cutting out sugar, neither Nathan nor I have gotten any contagious infections, despite how many colds were going around this spring at Nathan's work!

If you have questions about what it was like for me being on the diet, I'll try to answer, but extended typing does make my hands hurt, so if you have questions about how it all works, I really suggest that you go read the book itself, or at least Dr. Hyman's blog. It's an easy quick read and everything is explained.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Death in Paradise

Looking for a good summer show? Does a whimsical detective show set in the Caribbean with plenty of Anglo/Franco humor sound like your niche? Well then, how about checking out Death in Paradise? Netflix just got Season 3 up, so you have 24 episodes to binge on.

The Premise: A fastidious English Detective gets sent to a Caribbean island of to help solve a murder. Although he dislikes the sun and his Britishness is abrasive to the French islanders, he is good at his job and the local commissioner works out a deal with London to keep the detective around. Slowly he becomes beloved by his coworkers (the islanders are by far the best part of the show) and starts to tolerate the climate, while solving one mystery after another.

Nathan and I fell in love with the show pretty quickly. The characters are great, and the feel of the show is quirky and upbeat enough to set it apart from most crime dramas while making it the perfect bit of relaxing entertainment after a long day at work. The mysteries, which have a very "Agatha Christie" feel to them, are pretty clever, although we do enjoy figuring out as many as possible before the reveal!

It's also fairly clean. There are mentions of affairs, and there are bodies, but you don't see anything and the language is quite decent.

(Discreet Season 3 Opener Spoiler)
I will warn you that there is a significant cast member departure at the beginning of season 3, but the replacement is SO good that the show actually gets better. So don't let that throw you off!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Duluth and Minnesota's "Downton Abbey"

Well, Nathan and I just got back from our first "just us" vacation since our honeymoon! We went up to Duluth, MN for a wedding and spent the weekend enjoy the beautiful city and Lake Superior.


Duluth gets very busy during the summer, so instead of staying in a hotel, we decided to try out AirBnB.com. We got a very nice bedroom/bathroom/sitting room combo for $50, just 20 minutes out of the city. Our host was great, and overall we found it a very affordable (yet still comfortable) way to travel.


The highlight of the trip for us was our visit to Glensheen Mansion, a turn of the century home that is just AMAZING (and a must-see for any Downton Abbey fan!)



Seriously, this place is amazing.


In addition to being lavishly decorated, it also is fascinating to see all of the 'modern' conviences the family used in the home - including central vacuuming!


My favorite room is the greenhouse-like breakfast room. You can see my full album with my notes from the tour over on facebook!


My previous visits to Duluth centered largely around Canal Park and the conference center, but this time Nathan and I drove around a bit more of the rest of the city. And although we brought most of our food (my restrictive diet), we still indulged in some of the culinary delights as well, taking dinner at Pizza Luce and getting some GF rhubarb crisp at the rhubarb festival!

Considering that our car broke down the day before we were supposed to go and we had to rent a vehicle from a family member, I was really really thankful that we both made it and had a lovely time. Very grateful to have a chance to share one of my favorite places with Nathan!