Saturday, December 13, 2008

Making Progress

I want to thank everyone for the kind comments on my blog the last couple of days. If you haven't been following...I haven't been feeling really great....and got tested for some food sensitivities. I found out I have many, and I am in the process of revamping my diet. I'll keep you posted once I get started.

What a day today! Irv and Michael went to pick up a treadmill I had hoped to purchase from someone where I work. Michael tried it out and he didn't think I would be happy with the performance, so I didn't get it. I'm kind of bummed. I really want one and the price was right on this one. We live outside of town and don't have sidewalks. The streets aren't great in the winter and they are covered with salt most of the time, meaning I can't walk the dog on them either. The treadmill was going to help us both get our exercise. I'll keep looking for one.

While they were gone, I got the tree decorated and some decorations up in the living room. If you read my post of November 29, you know we had some trouble finding a nice tree this year. I would never say this in front of the tree....but it is by far the saddest looking little thing we have ever had. I did my best to dress him up a bit, but his branches are so soft that nothing would stay on and some of the branches are drooping under the weight of the lights and ornaments. Poor little guy. I'll try to finish the rest tomorrow.

It's so much fun taking the decorations out of the boxes. So many of the ornaments and decorations have such wonderful memories attached to them. I always put out every little picture with Santa that we had taken over the years. The oldest one with my kids would be 34 years old. I do have one with me and Santa and we won't talk about how old that one is! Here are some of them. I love to look at the kid's faces...sometimes happy, sometimes funny!

Next, we headed out to do more shopping. We went to the mega mall yesterday and came home with only 2 gifts. Today we tried some of the local stores and did a bit better.

I went into a new resale shop and came out with 2 great little dishes that I will turn into funky little soap dishes, and also a little wooden tray that I am going to cover with fabric, all for my shop. Irv also found a really cute blue and white striped candlestick that will make a great base for plate.

I was really in there looking for shirts for Matt. He asked that we not buy him new things this year, but try to find used clothing or not buy him anything. I couldn't find a thing there. I would like to respect his wishes, but like I said, I love Christmas and I know for a fact that he has needs. Therefore, mommy will try to fill some of those needs for her little boy.

Tomorrow we'll head to a smaller mall to try to finish up. I love Christmas shopping. I love giving gifts and I try very hard to find things that I know the recipients will really like. I am struggling a bit this year finding those great gifts...but tomorrow is another day.

We got home and I headed into my workshop to get on the computer. No etsy sales today, but read a bit in the forums and answered some e-mails. Irv ran and got us Subway and now it's blog time. After this I will work on some things for my shop. I will be reopening MyOtherShop on etsy soon. I moved things from MyOtherShop to FourDogDay for the holidays. I just didn't have the time to maintain and promote two shops. When I reopen it, it will be with home decor and I am SO excited I can hardly stand it. I'll start with my fun and funky plates, but then I will be adding decoupage items and may even do a bit of sewing. I can't wait!

Well, that is it for today. I really need to get some stuff done for my shops. Tomorrow is grocery shopping...and I will try to start substituting some foods on my "acceptable" list and eliminating a few from my "avoid" list. I don't plan to avoid everything until after the holidays, but there are some things I can change now without freaking out too much. Then we will head to yet another mall. Hopefully the last this holiday season.

Have a great evening!

Friday, December 12, 2008

There Is No Quick Fix

I listen to my body, and I have known for quite a while that it isn't functioning the way it should be. Even though I knew I wasn't going to like the outcome, I went and had the ALCAT Food Sensitivity blood test done to see what it is that I am eating or exposing myself to that is making me feel just plain old crappy.

I'm sure there are people that question the accuracy of this kind of medical test....I myself question the accuracy of most medical tests. When I have tests done, I listen to what the doctor has to say when they give me my results, and then I always do what I feel is best for me...and it isn't always what the doctor says. I use test results as guidelines, just as I am going to do with the results of the ALCAT test.

The results of the test really surprised me. I expected to be sensitive to wheat and chocolate like I have been for years, and then I thought maybe dairy and corn. Those are fairly common culprits. What I found out was that I have a severe intolerance to asparagus, avocado, brussel sprouts, celery, cucumber and sweet potato. I can live without the celery and cucumber, but I'm a vegetarian, and I love the rest of those foods. The list of things I have a moderate intolerance to was long, but on that list was banana, spinach, brewer's yeast and white potato. That is a big problem. First of all, I eat a banana 5 days a week for the potassium. I eat spinach in my salads because it is so good for you, and I like potatoes and french fries and chips.

The other thing the test told me is that I have a moderate reaction to Candida Albicans which can cause all kinds of issues that I would rather not have. In order to avoid that, I need to avoid things like fructose, cane sugar, baker's yeast, honey, beet sugar and mushrooms. I also have a slight reaction to Gliadin, which is related to gluten and they recommend I limit barley, wheat, oat and rye.

I react severely to sorbic acid and yellow #5, and to one type of common mold and to nickel sulfate.

Through my regular blood test, I found out that my cholesterol and all of that stuff is good, however I am low in folate, which you get from spinach, broccoli, avocado, bread and bananas...among other things. I also have insufficient Vitamin D.

I can honestly tell you that when I eat certain things, I really don't feel well. I don't get sick to my stomach...I just don't feel "right". It's hard to explain, but if you are really in tune with your body, you know.

So, what do I do now? First off, I already got back on my multi vitamins that I had stopped taking about 4 months ago, and some omegas. I need to find a way to supplement my folate and Vitamin D, but I think I will wait until I go for my annual checkup in January and ask the Internist what she suggests for that.

What I have decided to do about the food sensitivities is to take the next two weeks to go over the results and decide what things I will immediately stop eating and develop a food plan for myself using the foods I can eat. I do not want to start right now for 2 reasons, first I don't have any idea what I am going to be eating yet, and I am not giving up my Christmas cookies. It would be unreasonable to try to start now. I would setting myself up to fail.

The foods I have a severe intolerance to I need to avoid for 6 months. The things that were moderate....3 to 6 months. It is also important to rotate the things you eat and not eat the same things all of the time.

Do you know how many things have yeast in them? Any idea how much stuff has sweeteners in them? Those are going to be difficult for me, and I hate giving up any vegetables, but it is what it is. I will do my best to come up with something that works for me. It suggests that vegetarians add meat to their diet if possible for a few months....I can't do that.

The change in my diet will be drastic, and I know that I am not going to be a happy little camper for a while as I adjust...but I also know that I don't want to keep feeling like I feel now, so I will do it.

My husband and son were teasing me last night about all of my food sensitivities. I two will be sorry when I start my new food plan, because I will be the crabbiest SOB on the face of the earth for a while. I would suggest you be nice to me or the wrath of Kath will be upon you!

I will let you know when I start, and I will let you know from time to time how I am doing. I did it before and I can do it again.....I think. Wish me luck....and now where are those Christmas cookies?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Looking For The Quick Fix

Seven years ago I started working at a natural health office. Even though I didn't care for the ethics of the people I worked for, I did learn a lot about taking care of myself in a more natural way. I believe there is a time and a place for prescription drugs, but I also feel we are an "over drugged" society. Part of that can be blamed on the doctors, but most of it can be blamed on ourselves. We are a "quick fix" society. We can't even tolerate a runny nose anymore. We run to the pharmacy or to the doctor to make that runny nose go away. We seem to do that for every little ache or pain we have. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of very sick people that need medication to survive. Thank goodness we can help them.

What many people don't realize though is that symptoms are our body's way of telling us that something is wrong. Suppressing those symptoms with drugs may not always be the best thing to do. Besides all drugs have side affects.

When I worked at the natural health office, people would come in with shopping bags filled with medications they were taking....lists the length of their arm. It was awful. These weren't people with serious illnesses. These were people that went to see the doctor for common every day ailments like stomach pain and got a pill. That pill gave them a headache, so they got a pill for that. That pill gave them ringing in their ears, so that got a pill for that....and before they knew it, they had a shopping bag full and now they really were sick. Most people's systems can't handle that many drugs. It was so sad. The thing is, they would take all of the pills, feel sicker than they did in the first place and still not know why they had stomach pain!

I use to run to the doctor for everything. Now I don't. I have learned to understand my body and symptoms. Sure, it is tempting to reach for the medicine bottle when my head hurts, but now I prefer to figure out why my head hurts and just deal with it. It hurts for a reason and I prefer to know why.

Many of us have awful diets, including me at times. We eat fast foods, processed foods and foods covered with insecticides and pesticides. It's easy to see why we often don't feel well. I go through phases of healthy eating, but always seem to fall back into the "whatever is easiest" rut. I find myself eating a handful of chips, or stopping for chai lattes almost everyday, or ordering desserts when we eat out. I never give a second thought to what that is doing to my body, until I feel awful with no energy or have a headache everyday or my nose is so stuffed up I can't breathe. That is what eating poorly does to me. I know that, because I know what it's like to eat healthy and feel fantastic.

About 4 years ago I was tested for food sensitivities. Those are a bit different than food allergies. With allergies you usually get symptoms immediately. With food sensitivities, the symptom can take hours or even days to appear. Everyone probably has sensitivities to something in their diet or their environment. My problem back then was wheat and chocolate. The way to correct the problem is to avoid eating those foods for about 6 months, which I did. I had never felt so good in my entire adult life.

Then as time went on, I slowly added the wheat back into my diet and felt fine. I tried adding the chocolate back in, but kept getting headaches, so I try to still avoid the chocolate. Over time though, my diet has really become inconsistent. I eat good, I eat bad, I eat bad, I eat bad, and then I might eat good for a while.

Lately I just haven't felt the way I know I should. I've been getting headaches, my nose is stuffy all the time and I'm tired during the day. I know, I decided to get tested again. I had regular blood work done and I also got tested for Vitamin B and Vitamin D. I haven't eaten meat in over three years, so I was curious about my B and I had melanoma 10 years ago so I get very little, if any I wanted to see where my D was at. The test I had for the food sensitivities was called the ALCAT TEST. I got my results last night. Let's just say that I am a little frustrated right now and have some major decisions to make about my health.

Tomorrow I will talk about the test results with you. Let's suffice it to say that I am desparately looking for that "quick fix" pill right now!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mom Needs A Hug

My youngest son Matt tried a state university here in Illinois his freshman year of college. He hated it. It was located out in the boonies, in the middle of nowhere and we knew very early on that it was not a good "fit" for him.

He decided to go out to Boulder, Colorado the following year. One of his friends attended the university in Boulder, but paying out-of-state tuition was out of the question for us. Matt decided to go to a community college in Boulder until he figured out what he wanted to do.

He finished college at a four-year school in Durango and got his degree in education. He has become an amazing teacher. He is in his second year of teaching out in Telluride, Colorado, a small ski town in the San Juan mountain range.

It's always difficult when your children move away....far away. Our daughter, Tresa lives in Chicago, less than an hour from us. We see her often. Our son, Michael and his wife, Bernadette moved to Virginia when they finished up their schooling, because that was where they found teaching jobs. It was hard to see them leave. They managed to visit when they could and we took a vacation out to Virginia and had a wonderful time visiting. It's a long drive, but one that you can do over an extended weekend if you need to. They moved back here this summer and it's great having them back.

Then there is Matt, who decided to fall in love with one of the most beautiful states I have ever been in...Colorado. We drove Matt out the first time when he moved to Boulder and I was blown away. The views were beyond anything I had ever seen. Everywhere you looked it was gorgeous. We drove out again to move him to Durango. Durango is in the southern part of the state and different from Boulder, but still nice. We haven't been to Telluride yet, but it is our hope to drive out there this summer if time and money permit. Matt once said that he feels like he is living a dream.

If Matt lived in Denver it wouldn't be quite so bad. You can drive that in one day if need be....but no, Matt doesn't live in Denver. He lives in Telluride, which is over the mountains another 7 hours past Denver. You don't make that drive in a day.

So, we don't see Matt very often, and it's hard....very hard. We all really miss him a lot. We talk on the phone and e-mail all the time, but it isn't enough.

Matt is our youngest. He is our nature lover, our hiker, biker, camper, snowboarder, kayaker and rock climber. We live in Illinois and of course, you can do some of those things here....but not under the watchful eye of majestic mountains. He loves where he is at, and I know that he has found the perfect place for himself. I've never seen him happier. I can always tell when he is feeling a twinge of homesickness though....the calls come more frequently, and he's been calling quite a bit lately.

Anyway, Christmas is coming and Matt will be pulling in sometime on the 21st. I took the entire week off of work so we can spend some time together. There will be a lot of hugs, a lot of laughing and a lot of talking. Matt always drives so that his border collie, Luna can come with him. I e-mailed him today and asked if he would like to help me bake cookies on Monday. He said sure, as long as we were done before the Bears game comes on that night! Sounds good to me.

Now, if I could just find away to get everyone else to move out to Colorado.....I would be right behind them!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Apple Pie....The Perfect Comfort Food

I had something else planned for today, but I wanted to be sure to get this to you before you finish planning your holiday meals. This is the absolute best apple pie I have ever had, and trust me, I love apple pie. The recipe belongs to Marsha Brooks, the 2001 Apple Pie contest Winner on Good Morning America. If your family loves a good apple pie, give this one a try!

Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie


1 pastry crust for a deep-dish pie 9-inch (homemade or store-bought)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
6 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (golden delicious or fuji)
1 recipe crumb topping (see below)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup caramel topping

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup butter

Directions for Crumb Topping:

1) Stir together brown sugar, flour, rolled oats
2) Cut in 1/2 cup butter until topping is like course crumbs. Set aside.


1) In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.
2) Add apple slices and gently toss until coated.
3) Transfer apple mixture to the pie shell
4) Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture.
5) Place pie on a cookie sheet so the drippings don't drop into your oven.
6) Cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil.
7) Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 25 minutes. Then remove foil and put back in for another 25 to 30 minutes with the foil.
8) Remove from oven. Sprinkle pie with chopped pecans then drizzle with caramel on top.
9) Cool on a wire rack and enjoy warm or at room temperature

My tips: Slice your apples really thin...they bake up nice and tender that way. A frozen crust works fine. You can take it out of the aluminum pan it comes in and transfer it to a glass pie plate if you like. The pie will drip, so put it on a cookie sheet. Serve the pie warm with vanilla ice good!

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Did It! I Found A Dress For The Wedding!

Tresa picked me up at the train and we stopped back at her condo for a few minutes before heading downtown. When we were getting ready to leave, I put my hat on and then I couldn't find my little knit gloves. We looked all over the condo and couldn't find them, so I assumed they were either in the car or I dropped them on the street when I got out of the car. Nope....neither. Where the heck were my gloves? Oh, that's right....when I took my hat and gloves off at the condo...I stuck my gloves in my hat so I wouldn't lose them. Yep! There they were, in my hat....ON TOP OF MY HEAD!

I thought...oh brother...if that's the kind of day it's going to be...I am in BIG trouble. This was the Dreaded Dress Shopping Day, and if I was ever going to find a dress to wear to my daughter's wedding I needed to be calm and things needed to go smoothly.

We actually had a good laugh at my expense, and headed on our way to the bus stop. Tresa decided we would try Macy's on Michigan Avenue first. She thought it might be less crowded than the State Street store. We rode the bus downtown and headed into the store. UGH, the dress selection was really poor and I started to sweat. My plan was to take all kinds of pictures of me trying on dresses, and there wasn't even a dress there that I wanted to try on!

Tresa decided we better head on over to the State Street store. On the way we stopped at a store called Filene's Basement. It isn't in a basement. In fact, we went up a very long escalator to get up to the store. I guess Filene's is suppose to have great prices, but it looked like a big garage sale to me. Definitely not my kind of store. I like things hanging neatly on racks in proper size order and maybe even color coordinated. I was not impressed. It isn't that I don't appreciate great prices, I just don't have the patience to search for things, especially that day. I was on a mission and I was not going home until I had a dress for the wedding.

We headed to State Street. It was still pretty quiet in the city and that was nice. No crowds yet. It was easy to get around. You just have to watch out for ice falling off the sides of the buildings...really!

The dress department at the State Street store was wonderful, and it was huge. I felt pretty confident that I would find something.

We both started going through the racks pulling out anything that was a "possibility". The sales clerk was great and put everything in a fitting room for us as we continued to look. Tresa and I don't really have the same taste in dresses, but she quickly figured out what I liked and our fitting room started to fill up quite nicely.

I had a vision of the dress I wanted when we started. I wanted brown for sure, and something comfortable and a little fitted. We are all doing cocktail length. We found some really cute brown dresses I liked, and also a couple in a neat gray. I passed up the bright colors thinking those might not be appropriate for the mother of the bride.

I started trying dresses on and figured out really fast that brown was not my color no matter how much I liked the dresses and the color. They did nothing for me. The gray ones were the same. Tresa went out to grab a couple in different sizes and came back with some really cute dresses in.....royal blue! I told her I didn't think that was a good color for the mother of the bride and she didn't agree.

So, I put on a royal blue dress. WOW! Royal blue was definitely my color, and a couple of the dresses were really cute. She went out and came back with others in blue. There was one that she loved that had more of a chiffon, full skirt in a darker blue that I nixed really fast. It was not "me". I felt like I was all "hip" in it and I don't mean "hip" as in "cool"....I mean "hip" as in "hippy"...not "hippie", but "hippy".....

Then I put on this dress.......this royal blue was really cute, it was kind of fitted and it fit me really well. I was pretty excited! I was 99% sure that I had found THE dress! Now this is another place where Tresa and I differ. Tresa would have said, "Ok this is the one. Let's go". I said, let me try on the other cute ones one more time just to be sure. I got this look, and I knew she really didn't get it, because that isn't how she does things....but I did need to be sure. This is a really BIG deal, you know?

Well, of course I didn't change my mind, and I bought the really cute royal blue dress. I think it was a great decision. No, it didn't come off the clearance rack like I had hoped, and I didn't find it in the first store which was my other hope...but the price was reasonable, I had a $25 off coupon from the paper and we were out the door, dress in hand within two hours of starting.

I do need to get the straps taken up a little bit and still have to figure out shoes and find some kind of a wrap, but that is all minor. I'm thinking silver shoes.....what do you think?

We grabbed a cab and went and had a great lunch at a little corner restaurant and talked about the dress and the wedding and hair and shoes and all kinds of things, and then it was time to catch the train home. Traffic caused us to miss the train I was supposed to get on, so we sat and talked and chilled out in the car for an hour waiting for the next one.

What I have been calling the Dreaded Dress Shopping Day turned into an absolutely wonderful day with my little girl. I love you Tresa and thanks so much for helping me find my dress.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In A Wii Bit Of Trouble

My son and husband picked me up at the train yesterday after my day in the Windy City. We walked in the door at home and they were a bit on the quiet side. In fact, when I talked to my son on the phone when I was in the city....he sounded a bit "strange". I suspected something was going on. I found out what that was when I walked into my living room to find it had been totally rearranged.

Michael and Irv had been complaining about my seating arrangement for quite some time, and took advantage of the fact that I was gone for the day, to come up with their own seating arrangement.

We have a tiny house and the living room furniture we have is really too big for the room. They always complained that they just couldn't get comfortable to watch the game (Bears) . It seemed the couch was at the wrong angle.

So all got moved. I must admit, with a little centering and shifting of a couple of things...I really do like it. Then I found out the true reason for the rearrangement. Michael wanted to get a Wii game and have it hooked up here for Christmas and there wasn't enough room to play the game!!!

He had been calling around and it seemed everyone was out of them, but hoped to get more in by Christmas. I told him that someone said that the Game Stop had Wii games, so he immediately got on the phone and yes, they had 2 left. I've never seen anyone move so fast! He flew out the door with Irv hobbling along behind him, and they were on their way to the neighboring town to "look at" it. Have you ever in your life flown out the door just to "look" at something??

A short time later they were back. I called out from the workshop, "Do I hear a bag?" Michael comes walking into my workshop with a big grin on his face and guilt in his heart. It seemed he had tried to call his wife, Bernadette on the way to the Game Stop to discuss this $300 purchase and she didn't answer. So now he had this wonderful game but still needed to go home to discuss it with his wife. He put the coveted prize on my closet shelf and headed home.

I received a text message later on that said "Approval Granted, get ready to Wiiiiiiii!" I texted him back and asked him if Bernadette knew that the Wii game was already on my closet shelf? He texted me back and said, "Of course...and it isn't like the money is coming out of our savings. I am using my saved up spending money and getting an advance of next week's allowance."

So, with the marriage and the finances in tact....he came over today before the Bears game and opened up the Wii box. He started laying the many parts and gadgets on the table and in a short time was entering things like the date and time on the T.V. using the controller. I will say he was a bit concerned when he was having a hard time controlling the mouse to get it in the right box to enter the date and time. He's thinking the games might not be as easy as they seem to be.

For me, it brought back memories of Michael and his brother, Matt sitting on the floor in front of the T.V. years ago playing Nintendo. It didn't seem to matter what game it was...Matt would sit as still as could be with just his hands moving the controller, and then there was Michael...he would lean left, he would lean right, his tongue was always sticking out, he would jump up and sit though all of those things would get him better results! I use to sit behind them and be crying from laughing so hard!

I can't wait until Christmas when we all gather and play this thing. I have heard so much about it. It makes me a bit nervous that they warn you to strap the controller to your wrist so it doesn't go flying, intentionally or otherwise!

I did find out after the fact, that when they were pulling into the parking lot at the Game Stop, two other cars were also pulling in. Irv needs a hip replacement and he moves and walks very slowly. Michael, being afraid that the men in the other cars might beat them into the store and buy the two remaining Wii games told Irv, I'm going in....and RAN all of the way into the store bypassing the sidewalk and running through the piled up snow instead!! Boys will be boys...even when they are 28 years old!

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