Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The bleak mid-winter








Hello, I have decided that winter sucks. Or at least THIS winter does, with its unrelenting gloom and damp. I know there are much colder temperatures and snow and whatnot elsewhere, but for reals y'all, I can only take so many days of grey skies and temps barely above freezing and cold cold cold rain/drizzle/mist before I start to go all Jack Torrance on your collective asses. I guess we had ONE sunny day this month because I took a photo of it but apart from that it's been SAD city up in here, and also ALLERGIES. Bleh.

I am combating the cabin fever with books, specifically the series known as A Song of Ice and Fire written by one George R. R. Martin. I'm determined to read the whole thing right through and have all five (so far) books finished by the time the TV show starts back up again in April. That might sound do-able unless you know that (a) I am the world's slowest reader and (b) each book is like 48,000 pages long. But whatever, it's not like I have any other hobbies.

(I've been assured by those who know that upon finishing the fifth book I'll suddenly feel compelled to write Mr. Martin VERY strongly worded letters explaining that he IS TOO my bitch and should write faster, perhaps mailing hardcopies of pages to me one by one as he knocks out the sixth book, but that's just crazy talk. I don't even know his mailing address.)

In other January news, the Ohio State Buckeyes football team gave my dad a National Championship for his birthday, so that was nice. Nutrition school is moving right along and getting more awesome by the day. I've started working out again, and meditating again, and taking photos again when I'm not reading. But I'm usually reading. Or napping. Or sneezing.

Yeah. That's about it. Wake me when the temperature is higher than my age. Or better yet, my dad's age.

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: The books

Hey, the holidays are mostly over and I'm cranky and ready for everyone to go back to work/school, including me, so let's talk about books, yeah? Here are all the books I read in 2014 and what I thought of them, in case you care. Don't worry, there weren't that many, and I've grouped the series stuff together for purposes of expedition.
  1. The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith, AKA J.K. Rowling. I loved both of these books and I think Ms. Rowling has a hella awesome new series on her hands. Apparently the BBC thinks so, too.
  2. The Shining by Stephen King. I had never read this, can you believe it? Loved it. I find King a bit uneven but this one was pitch-perfect and MUCH scarier than the movie. Also: SPOILER! Scatman Crothers didn't have to die y'all. Screw you, Stanley Kubrick, for randomly killing off the most likeable character in the whole damn enterprise. Also, after reading the book the decision to cast Shelly Duvall is even more puzzling. WHAT WAS KUBRICK SMOKING, YOU GUYS?
  3. Case Histories, One Good Turn and When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson, the first three books of her Jackson Brodie series. I love these books, and I heart Jackson, and I have GOT to get hold of the TV series that was made from them because JASON ISAACS, Y'ALL. (You may know him as Lucius Malfoy, among other roles. I just know him as yummy.)
  4. Dust by Hugh Howey, the final book in the whole Wool/Silo saga. Did not love. I have no idea what happened here because the rest of this series was fantastic, but this book was so BORING, and then I guess he wrapped things up but in a really unsatisfying way. Maybe dude was feeling the pressure of Wool starting out as a short story and then blowing up into a whole THING that he had to do, or something, I dunno. But meh.
  5. The Paleo Coach by Jason Seib. Freaking fantastic, one of my best books of the year or maybe ever, non-fiction-wise. If you're looking to start a fitness routine, or if you're trying to lose weight, or whatever health-related New Year's resolutions you've got going on, you need this book. Seib is all about getting your mind right before you can make outward changes, and he is spot on.
  6. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I love everything she does, and this book was no exception.
  7. A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery and How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny, the seventh, eighth and ninth books in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. I freaking LOVE this series, it's like coming home every time I read a new book in it, but I didn't super love The Beautiful Mystery because hello, they changed the setting completely and I was not down with that. Half the characters were missing and it felt claustrophobic.
  8. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, another book I should have read years ago but hadn't. I loved it. Such a quiet but powerful and compelling story.
  9. The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum. This is one of the Inspector Seyer books but I can't remember which one; we get them all out of order here in the US. Norwegian police procedurals. Love this series.
  10. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. If you've read her blog then you've sort of read this book, but I love the blog and enjoyed the book very much. It reminded me of Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking, which is just about the highest praise I can give to a food memoir.
  11. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. Little vignettes all strung together to make up the story of an English-language newspaper in Rome. I loved this while I was reading it (on the beach), but ultimately it was super depressing. So yeah.
  12. Countdown City and World of Trouble by Ben Winters, the last two books in the Last Policeman trilogy. Loved, loved, loved. Not QUITE as much as I loved the first book, and I didn't super love some of the decisions he made with his characters toward the end, but by then I didn't care; I was all caught up in the fact that an asteroid was about to hit the Earth, OMG!
  13. Eat the Yolks by Liz Wolfe. If you've read a lot of paleo nutrition books, you probably don't need to read this one, but you might as well. I liked it a lot, I just don't know that it added anything new to the conversation.
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is my daughter's all-time favorite book and I had never read it. I liked it just fine. Not enough to read the rest of the series, though.
  15. Faithful Place, Broken Harbor and The Secret Place by Tana French, the third, fourth and fifth Dublin Murder Squad books. Another series and author that I absolutely LOVE. Of the three I was least crazy about Broken Harbor and most crazy about Faithful Place but they're all outstanding.
  16. How to Meditate and Taking the Leap by Pema Chodron. Two-ought-fourteen was the year of learning to meditate; 2015 will be the year of making it a daily practice. Yep.
  17. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. See above. I am all about the mindfulness these days. It keeps me off Prozac.
  18. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Not part of the Jackson Brodie series above. This book was absolutely extraordinary. I loved it. It's the sort of book I might re-read from time to time.
  19. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Because no one would shut up about this book. I did like it. It's definitely YA fiction, which isn't HUGELY my thing, but I liked it.
  20. On My Own Two Feet by Manisha Thakor. Another absolutely fantastic must-read nonfiction book. Buy a copy for every young woman you know. I did not understand money AT ALL until I read this book, and I wish I had read it 30 years ago. My financial situation would be COMPLETELY different now if I had.
  21. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I thought I was tired of post-apocalyptic fiction until I read this book. It's definitely a fresh take. I liked it very much.
  22. The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch, the second book in the Hangman's Daughter series. I loved the first book and I loved this one, too. Seventeenth century Bavaria? I'm in. These books read like role-playing games, in a way. Fantastic setting, fantastic characters, tons of action and puzzles to solve and little tidbits about archaic medical practice. So great.
  23. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, the only boner in the bunch. I really hated this book, so much that I was never able to finish it (after THREE attempts). My review on Goodreads says it all, really.
And that's it. That's all of 'em. Apart from A Child's Christmas in Wales, which I read every Christmas Eve, and Stoner by John Williams, which I'm reading now and only halfway through and may get counted as a 2015 book at this rate.

In related news, I've bought 30+ Kindle books just since Thanksgiving, OMG. Those $1.99 deals get me every time. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, All the Light We Cannot See, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Ten Thousand Saints, every book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, every book in Barbara Wilson's Cassandra Reilly series, The Song of Achilles, The Drunken Botanist, plus more Atkinson and Penny and Fossum and Potzsch (and King and Howey) ... damn, y'all! It's going to be a good year for reading. I'll tell you all about it next December.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A conversation with my parents yesterday afternoon

Dad: Has your mom committed random acts of decoration on you yet?
Me: Um, do what now?
Dad: You know how people decorate trees on the roadside this time of year?
Me: Yes.
Dad: Well, your Mom does that with other people's houses.
Me (to Mom): You what?
Mom: I have too much stuff, so I've been taking little things from our house and leaving them at other people's houses. Kind of blending them in with the decor.
Me: ...?
Mom: Just little things. Like refrigerator magnets.
Me: You bring magnets to people's houses and put them on their refrigerators?
Mom: Yeah.
Me: I have OCD. Don't do that to me. I'll either notice right away or it'll drive me insane.
Mom: I stuck one to Lucy's* fridge weeks ago and she still hasn't noticed. I might have to start doing it with bigger things.
Me: Wait, hang on. You actually bring stuff from your house to other people's houses and just leave it there without them knowing?
Mom: Yes. And then I take something!

* Names have been changed to protect the victims. If you're a friend of my mom's and you're thinking Lucy might be you, you're probably right. Check your fridge. And maybe your valuables, although I'm like 98% sure she was kidding about that last bit.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Oops













Um, what the heck? How did I skip an entire month? I have no idea. You didn't miss much, though. It was cold, I stopped grilling for the season, H went to Dallas with her thespian troupe, C decided it was time to tweak some meds (under his doctor's close supervision), P took a much-deserved week off work, I did a bunch of nutrition school stuff, we had A Very (though not entirely) Paleo Thanksgiving a day early to accommodate my parents' travel plans, H finished driver's ed and turned 17 (!!), we bought her a used car (!$$!) and I put up the Christmas decorations in November this year, which never happens. You know, until now.

Next up: passing my first nutrition school test (which I did this morning, thank you very much), planning what to bake for holiday goodies and then actually baking them, H getting her driver's license and finally being able to drive herself to/from school OMG, a long-awaited trip to see the Louisiana in-laws (yay!), Christmas (yay!) and a bunch of dentist appointments (what? boooo!).

But first I'm off to boil some eggs (#rockstarlife). And hopefully we'll talk in the meantime, eh?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

This Week In My Kitchen :: Blog Hop






Not a whole lot going on in the ol' kitchen this week because H has appointments every single day after school this month, oy. I've been trying to take advantage of the last week of Daylight Saving Time to grill up everything that needs grilling though, like those chicken thighs and lamb chops up there.

And we've been eating lots of veggies! In that second pic: green salad, kale salad with apples and pomegranate arils and garam masala-toasted pepitas, roasted potatoes and purple cabbage, sweet potato "noodles". Yum. I love the produce this time of year! Root veggies and brassicas are my fave. I come from a potatoes-and-cabbage-eating people. I don't know what to tell you.

I made a special treat this week and it nearly killed me from happiness -- the cinnamon rolls from The Paleo Kitchen by Juli Bauer and George Bryant. They taste exactly like the little cinnamon rolls my mom would make from leftover pie crust dough whenever she baked pies for the holidays, BUT they are grain-free and very low in sugar (the "icing" you see in the photo is just unsweetened coconut butter). Plus they are way more huge than cinnamon rolls made from leftover crust. I love these things SO MUCH and will make a triple batch to freeze for the holidays Real Soon Now.

Last night was meatballs and spaghetti. Spaghetti squash for me. I got super smart and made the meatballs, sauce and squash at lunchtime. Then I just dumped the sauce and meatballs in the slow-cooker and stuck the squash in the fridge to be re-heated when I made the spaghetti for my non-paleo people (read: everyone but me) after H's appointment yesterday afternoon. Pretty proud of myself for thinking ahead; it doesn't happen often. And also we had salad. I felt you should know.

Not much else is going on around here. I read Eleanor & Park because people on the internets can't shut up about how awesome Rainbow Rowell is and I liked it and now I'm about to start Station Eleven. I haven't been in the mood to read scary stuff this Halloween season but I'm still loving American Horror Story. And The Walking Dead. Hello, was Gareth not the most verbose and boring cannibal ever? Shut up, Gareth. No one wants to be talked to death while you're eating their leg right in front of them. Get some social skills, geez.

Yep. That's about it. Happy Halloween, Blessed Samhain, insert whatever the proper greeting is for El Dia de los Muertos here. And whatnot. Talk to you in November, yikes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

My week of yoga pants

So this happened:


Yep. Tore the MCL in my left knee while moving a chair. (I've got to come up with a better story for that. Tore my MCL while kickboxing Chuck Norris? Tore my MCL while two-stepping with my movie star boyfriend Ted Levine at the Broken Spoke? Tore my MCL while jumping out of a helicopter, over a waterfall, to bring much-needed medicine to ... orphaned river otters? Yeah. Let's go with that. I'll send the otters a check; it'll be fine.)

I don't know how badly it's torn because I haven't followed up yet with an orthopedist AS INSTRUCTED but Doctor Google says the treatment is more or less the same, it just takes longer if it's a really bad one which I don't think it is, so whatever. All I know is that it is VERY VERY HARD to dress around a knee immobilizer that goes from your crotch to your ankle. I don't mean dressing UP, to look NICE -- I'm old so who cares -- I mean actually wearing clothing items that prevent me from flashing my granny panties at the world. IT'S HARD, Y'ALL. TINY VIOLINS.

I was supposed to wear this ferkakta thing through tomorrow but screw that, I graduated myself to a fairly sturdy drugstore knee brace as of yesterday and it feels totally fine. I still can't wear jeans over even this little brace, though. I miss my jeans, you guys. TINY CELLO.

It could be worse, I suppose. Six years ago this month, this happened:


TINY BASSOON.

I sprained the shit out of (I believe that was the official diagnosis) my right ankle (no followup again, DOCTOR GOOGLE IS MY PCP, quit judging) in October 2008 and that took a REALLY long time to heal and also I had to use CRUTCHES which meant I was catapulting myself all over the place because I am super bad at crutches and I COULDN'T DRIVE. For like a month. OMG. That sucked so hard. THE WORLD'S SMALLEST TUBA.

This time I can drive. It requires some whack-ass origami contortionism to make it happen, or it did before I ditched the immobilizer, but IT IS/WAS POSSIBLE. And thank God for that, because you wouldn't like me when I'm forcibly housebound. It ain't pretty.

Anyhoo, the point is that every six years or so, October tries to kill me. Good to know. If I plan ahead now, maybe I can spend October 2020 in a nice medically induced coma or something, just to be safe.

Meanwhile, right now I am ...

... reading Tana French's Broken Harbor. This is the fourth book in her Dublin Murder Squad series, the one that began with In The Woods, and I dunno, you guys. I love everything she does but this might be my least-favorite book in the series so far. It's still GOOD, it's just ... not In The Woods. Or The Likeness. Or Faithful Place.

... watching Live Free Or Die, and I am probably the only one, but I kind of love this show! It's about several different people who for whatever reason choose to live off the grid and off the land. Not in a weird Doomsday Preppers kind of way (I don't actually watch that show so I may not know what I'm talking about) but just because, you know, they like it.

... listening to Diane Sanfilippo's Build a Badass Business podcast. Because I guess that's what I'll be doing as a health coach. Diane is super rad and her tips are so amazing and they seem DOABLE, which is key.

... eating all the things. I don't know why, but this injury made me super hungry. I'm big on sweet potato noodles (made with one of these contraptions) right now. And kale! Which I used to not even like it, but now I love it, because I've become one of those annoying people! I've mostly been making chips with it, because CHIPS, but later this afternoon I'll be whipping up a kale salad with bacon and honeycrisp apples and pomegranate arils and probably pumpkin seeds and who knows what else. GOD I AM SO HUNGRY RIGHT NOW.

... drinking mineral water (this one specifically). I don't know why. I originally bought it to make fake martinis (mineral water, a drop of vermouth, a couple of olives -- it's vile, don't try it) but then I just started drinking it and now I like it and I don't know.

And that about brings you up to speed. I hope your month is going well and that October isn't trying to kill you. Because if it is, maybe we can form a support group.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This Week In My Kitchen :: Blog Hop








I'm joining in with Heather again this week, and cheating a bit by dipping way back into September for some kitchen photos. Because I only did the one post in September, don'tcha know.

That top photo was my birthday cake this year. It's the Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Vanilla Spiced Cream from Paleo Sweets and Treats. Gorgeous, and the cake was delicious but I wasn't super crazy about the cashew cream. Maybe if I'd used fresher cashews (I store raw nuts in the freezer and some of them have been in there a while, ahem). I think next time I'll try a whipped coconut cream or meringue topping instead.

The cupcakes were Danielle Walker's Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Italian Meringue Frosting from her first cookbook, Against All Grain, and they were absolute perfection. Delicious cake, delicious (and easy!) honey-sweetened meringue that I can't wait to make again. These were for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration, which was awesome!

I'm still soaking nuts weekly for homemade nut milk (I also use the recipe in Against All Grain for that!) and I'm so happy that it's kale chip season again! I suppose you can do other things with kale, put it in soups and make salads with it and whatnot, but I don't know why you would when there are KALE CHIPS. I'm a little bit addicted.

Also really happy that okra is in season, though I guess it's probably on its way out in most parts of the country by now. We can still get it here, though, and I love it so much -- roasted, grilled, sauteed with bacon, it's all good!

And pears! I seriously can't stop eating them now that organic varieties are showing up in my local store. I always forget how good they are and their season seems so short.

And finally, I am drinking herbal teas by the truckload lately. Because guess what else is in season right now where I live? RAGWEED. My nemesis. I don't have photos of the bone broth I made yesterday or the lemon-ginger-cayenne kombucha I bought at Natural Grocer or the other 4,718 varieties of medicinal teas I have in the pantry, but I am determined to kick ragweed's ass this year. BEGONE, FOUL PESTILENCE. And take the Fall Elm pollen with you! (Also the mold. And the mosquitoes. Enough with both of those, seriously.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September is my January



















What the heck, how have I not posted at all this month? I don't know what to tell you. Things are sort of busy. H is back at school (she had strep the first week, did I tell you? that was fun) and C is doing some sort of cyber security certification course (I think we finally have a Plan there) and my health coaching classes have started and my birthday is this week and my parents' 50th wedding anniversary is next week and yeah. Busy!

I have been trying really hard to not be so busy, you guys. I realized that a lot of my busy-ness was self-generated hoohah that didn't need to happen, and as a result I have stopped following a bunch of people on Twitter and Tumblr and Instagram and unsubbed a bunch of email newsletters and rejiggered my newsfeed on Facebook such that I now spend WAY less time online and way less time worried that I'm missing something, except that I'm totally missing lots of somethings. But I've decided not to care. I've also stopped watching TV shows that make me feel unclean, so adiós, Sons of Anarchy. You were good back when you were all Hamlet-y but now you just make me feel like I need to take a shower and go to confession. And I'm not even Catholic! Something's gotta give.

I'm reading Kate Atkinson's Life After Life and boy is it good. I thought it was going to be some weird Lovely Bones thing, you know, like it would take place at least partially in the AFTERLIFE. But no, the title refers to multiple lives in succession, not the afterlife. Or multiple iterations, in succession, of the same life. I dunno. You'd have to read it. It's really good. After that I'm tackling Louise Penny's The Beautiful Mystery because the TENTH Chief Inspector Gamache book just came out and I'm still two books behind, quelle horreur! And then I'll probably read some more Pema Chödrön.

I get the itch to change things in September. Maybe because of my birthday, or the changing seasons, or the start of school or whatever. September is when I want to clean out closets and throw things away and do the whole "in with the new" thing. So far all I've done is start wearing jeans instead of shorts (I don't CARE if I die of heat stroke, I really don't, I'm done with shorts for this year) and start drinking hot coffee and tea instead of iced coffee and tea. But whatever. It all counts. Plus: pumpkin spice lattes! YES.