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American Valkyrie
 
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in American Valkyrie's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, May 13th, 2010
11:16 am
The Origins of Food
I tend to jump around from hobbies to hobbies, and they tend to correspond with the seasons. During the cold, snowy winter it was painting. Now it's gardening.

Since I work in the natural health profession, I'm surrounded by theories and viewpoints regarding alternative health. Some I leave as that- theories and viewpoints. One issue that is trendy right now and rarely contradicted is the quality of our food.

Mind you, the fact that people don't contradict it doesn't mean that they follow it. We still have to step out of our comfort zones to do that to a decent degree.

We have a small garden this year. Living in Reno, we have a short growing season, poor soil, and a water shortage. There isn't much we can grow, so we try to get the most quantity out of our energy use. This year we are doing a lot of cold-weather vegetables with high yield, and summer vegetables with an even higher yield. Probably the least-efficient crop this year is the large variety of sweet and hot peppers I've started from seed. Those are more about the joy of growing something unavailable in local grocery stores. There is also the added bonus of the capsaicin and phytonutrients in those little guys.

Our garden is mostly organic. We use Miracle Grow, so I can't claim it's completely organic. Last year, friends came over for our produce because it has a higher likelihood of being "organic" than some of the organic produce in the store. I don't have a huge commercial, conventional farm next to my back yard. Sure, I might lose a few crops to bugs. I'll have to arrange the marigolds by the tomatoes to avoid cutworms, and might have to mix soap and water to kill a few aphids. But it means fewer pesticides to affect my son's autism.

We're very lucky to have a small gardening space. Though large for Reno, I compare this to the acre of garden my mother grew on our mostly-sustainable land in Idaho. Ours is weenie. But we have it. We can grow healthy, organic food for the cost of water and seed. (Though Reno water isn't cheap.)

One of the biggest reasons organic food is so trendy is because of socioeconomic factors. Unless you're lucky enough to have the land, the knowledge, and the resources to grow the food yourself, you're going to end up paying more for organic food. Farmers have to adjust their prices to compensate for the food that's lost to bugs and disease. Consumers pay it. The areas of the U.S. with the highest obesity rates are some of the poorest areas. McDonald's sells 99-cent cheeseburgers. Just last week, I passed up conventionally-grown bell peppers because they were $5.99 a pound... that's about $3 per pepper. Most of the country's poorer people live in apartments, or cohabitate with other families to save money. They can't grow more than a windowbox of herbs. So how do people who happen to live lower on the socioeconomic scale afford the healthy food?

Mind you, some of these ideas just won't work for some people. This is why I get annoyed at trendy articles suggesting a certain lifestyle, with the tone of, "you must do this to be healthy!" If you can't, you can't- you make exceptions where you can. But, since we happen to live lower on that same socioeconomic scale, we have a few ideas we can share.

Buy food in season. It's easy to know what's in season because that's what's on sale. When you buy food that's out of season you're not only paying more money but you're buying food that may have been harvested halfway around the world and sprayed with ethylene gas to ripen it. Food allowed to ripen on the plant has more flavor and often has more vitamins.

Eat less meat and use that money to buy better meat. If you want to switch to grass-fed beef, and eat meat seven days a week, try making a few of those days meatless. The money you would have spent on cheap, unhealthy meat can be put toward something you deserve.

Eat less meat, period. Yes, eating healthy is expensive. But so is meat. I buy tofu at Trader Joe's for $1.19. This is a 14-oz container of organic tofu. If you want ground beef for less than $1.50 a pound, you're going to have to get the stuff that's 20% fat. In addition, different countries have developed vegetarian recipes that provide protein in areas where meat is too expensive to buy. Try going to an Indian restaurant, or getting an Indian cookbook, and reading how many of those recipes are meatless. They use cheese, yogurt, beans, and lentils instead. Other countries use eggs or seeds.

Stop paying for labels. This is a HUGE one! How many people have paid more for "hormone-free" chicken? Those people don't know that it's ILLEGAL in the United States to use hormones in chicken and beef. Antibiotics are a different thing, and that is a choice the consumer has to make. Are you going to pay less or would you rather pay a little more to ensure you're not getting secondhand antibiotics?

Stop buying organic when you don't have to. Organic bananas? Not only do bananas grow with very little risk of insects damaging the fruit, they also have a thick peel that you have to throw away before you eat it. Organic bananas are wasted money. However, when it comes to fruit with thin, permeable skins, organic is crucial. Washing a peach won't get rid of the pesticides that have already seeped in through the skin. Removing the skin will remove a lot of those pesticides but will also remove a lot of fiber and vitamins. The skin is where most of an apple's nutrients lie.

Don't assume organic means it's safe. Organic spinach may not have pesticides, so does it mean it won't make you sick? No. E coli bacteria, which has been responsible for quite a few illnesses and deaths, lies in the soil in which the spinach grows. And since the spinach leaves grow right ON the soil, there is always a chance for the bacteria to spread to the food. Know what you're eating. Raw spinach is great, but cooked spinach is safer.

Balance your diet. Ayurvedic advice says that, when your diet is balanced, you crave what your body needs. Eating sugar causes more of a sugar craving. Because of these cravings, you end up eating more, and spending more. Many people find that avoiding processed sugar for a week cuts the cravings, and they just don't want it much anymore. Keeping a balanced diet long enough will actually cause you to crave healthy foods, eat less food, and be more satisfied. Sure, you might be craving more expensive foods- but you'll be eating less of it.

Don't replace foods; eliminate them. My children are gluten-free. If we had taken everything in their diet and switched it straight over for gluten-free substitutes, we would be eating more calories and would be spending at least twice as much money. Instead of buying "gluten-free," we don't buy gluten. Instead of having bread at a meal we will have rice, potatoes, or carrots. I don't buy barbeque sauce or Jell-O pudding or Sunny Delight. Sure, we do buy some gluten-free products. I hit Whole Foods about once every 3 months and get a half of a bag of groceries. We get baking mixes and gluten-free vitamins. But when I send lunches with the kids, they rarely get sandwiches. They get leftovers from last night's dinner, and fresh fruit, and nuts. I would much rather have that than a sandwich.

And last of all-
Cut costs elsewhere. Cancel cable TV and read books. Get a bike and try to ride it wherever you can. Reuse your old stuff, or join a recycling club that exchanges gently-used items. Wash your dishes by hand. Make sure all unnecessary electonics are turned off when you're not using them; it may save a little, but it's still money saved. When you add up all they costs you can cut in a month by getting rid of a few conveniences, you'll find you can get just a little closer to affording the food you deserve to eat.

And to anyone in Reno- if you want to share in my garden when I'm overflowing with tomatoes and squash, I'm sure we can come to a great bartering agreement.

Current Mood: optimistic
Sunday, August 31st, 2008
6:03 pm
Judge Not Thine Authors
I blog little, and I rant less. In general, I prefer to live by a "what they do is their business and I don't have time for that" kind of attitude. However, my mind has been ranting all day and now my fingers are translating it all into text.

Though I haven't yet read Stephanie Meyer's books, I have taken a recent interest in her career because 1) she's a female author 2) she's a fantasy fiction author 3) she's LDS. I completely intend to read her work, especially after speaking with at least four friends who are fans of hers and who attest to her skill. However, today while working out with one of my best friends, who is also LDS, we discussed books that she could read with her 12-year-old daughter. I mentioned the recent buzz about Stephanie Meyer, and how I had recently heard that she was LDS and puts moral principles in her book. My friend replied (to the LDS reference,) "Yeah, there's a big controversy about that."

*ahem* Excuse me?

This is not the first time this dilemma has caught my attention. As an LDS writer who is trying to finish a set of fantasy fiction novels for publication, I have wondered whether or not to pick a nome de plume for my work. Read on for my justification.

This is a quote by Stephanie Meyer from a website called A Motley Vision: "Some Mormons, especially those who know me, are surprised by my choice of topics. “Vampires?” they say, with a critical lilt to their voices. Then they add self-righteously, “I don’t read those kinds of books.” (Not all Mormons say that, some are really enthusiastic). I hasten to explain to them that it’s not like that. Unconsciously, I put a lot of my basic beliefs into the story. Free agency is a big theme, as is sacrifice. One very kind fan wrote to me and said, “instead of gore and horror there was lyrical beauty.” (Okay, so she was probably too kind). Even after I explain all that, I still have LDS friends (and extended family) who look at me funny."

Tracy Hickman dealt with the same thing. As co-author beside Margaret Weis of the Dragonlance series, Hickman developed a world called Krynn that is very similar to Tolkien's world, with many of the same mythological peoples. One facet of the world is that it is ruled by multiple gods, and these warring gods play a crucial part in the Dragonlance saga. Of course, as Hickman proudly proclaims his LDS faith, he was criticized for writing about polytheistic fantasy worlds. He defends his work here: http://www.trhickman.com/Spirit/Faith.html

Basically, the short justification is thus: It's fantasy. Make a distinction and either read the book or leave it on the shelf.

Orson Scott Card writes both science fiction works and pieces for the Church, his most popular work being a sci-fi story called "Ender's Game." He is very renowned for his writing, and the book he wrote on characters and viewpoint for Writer's Digest Books is my favorite and most influential piece on writing instruction yet. How much criticism has he undergone for writing about fantastic worlds and situations?

So why am I considering a pen name for my work?

I'm not at all ashamed of my work, and I love putting real situations and real characters into my stories. But if Stephanie Meyer comes under fire for writing about VAMPIRES (*gasp*) but does not put sex into her books, I feel I will be ostracized by not only some members in my ward but also certain members of the LDS community for the elements I put into my fiction. Do I care about what others think about me as a person based on my work? No, I already deal with a bit of ostracism for being a bit more eccentric than the mainstream cultural Mormon. But if people read Meyer/Hickman/Card and expect them to produce work of the same genre as Gerald Lund just because they are LDS, they are living in a separate kind of fantasy world. Because an author claims a strong LDS faith, are they disallowed an imagination, of adding specific imagery to their work, and basically thinking outside the box? How long will it be before I get an message in my Hotmail box urging me to ban the Twilight Series because it supports those fantastical elements, in the tradition of Harry Potter and The Golden Compass?

Several LDS friends have read my work, and I have always warned them, "It's PG-13," especially when some have suggested that I submit my work to LDS publishers. I know the LDS publisher's wont accept my work. I don't write sex scenes. There is violence (it's fantasy fiction!) but it's not graphic. And every bad decision and every antihero is rivaled by the consequences of those decisions. Let's see... in Heroes of Edurne, Eian is a duty-bound man who abstains from sexual encounters because he's unwed and isn't the kind of man who will leave bastard children along the countryside. But his best friend, Lucian, is not only openly gay but is the man who swoops in and provides Eian the aid he needs when Eian's own brother betrays the entire town. In the sequil, Werian Legacy, Aillhea is an impetuous girl who makes the decision to lie to the hero, Aeric, and engages in premarital sex because of some misguided ideals about love. When she gets pregnant and has to deal with the fact that Aeric's brother has a psychotic obsession about family, she realizes that her actions marked both her and her unborn child for death. The sex is not detailed... it happens between chapters, and there is no description of actions. As for the protagonists, even the antiheroes have valiant intentions and try to act for the greater good. I love my religion and I won't ever deny it. I know that my friends and fans will love my work and either not care what religion I am or will support my faith. But do I really want the critics to read my work and judge the Church, and maybe even say that I advocate homosexuality and premarital sex when I'm instead trying to portray that everybody has something to offer and that people can recover from their bad decisions?

This is the kind of blog that I'm not writing for my own personal catharsis. I would like responses. Advocate, disagree, whatever. Let's get a discussion going. How do you feel about this subject?
Saturday, June 7th, 2008
11:40 am
Slang and Archaic Synonyms
Most people not only have no love for the English language and its nuances, but think you're crazy for having a love of it. Fine, daft. Insane. Addled. Confounded. Touched. Bereft of mind. And, I suppose, I could go to dictionary.com and find more synonyms for "crazy," but these just popped into my mind.

I love how the resources have "archaic" synonyms... using "daft" for "crazy," for instance. Such synonyms are imperative to the imagery and setting of certain works, like the pseudo-medieval fantasy fiction I both read and write. Just by saying, "Are you addled?" instead of "Dude, you're crazy!" lets the reader know that it's a period work, or at least a work that borrows the setting of a time long past.

I'm always searching for the synonyms I need that can lend imagery to my work, just by using a choice word. A few months ago, I read the Livejournal blog by Tamora Pierce, where she listed texts she uses for her own imagery, one of which was Slang Through the Ages by Jonathan Green. I immediately went to Amazon.com and found distributors who still sold the out-of-print text, and I purchased it. The same day I received it, I pulled out my highlighter and perused the entire book, marking words that would be appropriate for my work. Though I did find some valuable words, I soon realized it was not slang I was looking for; it was archaic synonyms. Instead of using modern words for a woman of ill morals (I'll not use the words, to save myself censorship... you're already imagining them) I use "strumpet" or "trollop." Instead of war horse, I use "destrier." These are now used as slang, but were once very descriptive terms, and just by calling a woman a "strumpet," the reader knows to bring the imagery back a few centuries.

My 8-year-old son is currently interested in knights and the middle ages. When I noticed he had checked out some books at the library, published by DK Eyewitness Books, I borrowed them for the night, sat with my notebook, and recorded every descriptive synonym contained in them. I ended up with 5 full college-ruled pages, such as "pipe and tabor" for a duo of instruments used by a single man during a street festival, or "larder" for the pantry to store the meat. Each term lent so much more imagery, and made the prose so much more concise, than saying, "the recess in the castle, by the kitchen, where the meat was stored."

However, in search for the synonyms, the terms the characters might use (a nobleman would sooner use "strumpet" than "slut," a baser term that would be better said from the mouth of a serf or servant,) I discovered a great lack of resources. In addition, after searching for "medieval terms," I found that my own research of two books produced more terms than a Google search did.

I know there are other writers with the same predicament, considering I know many fans of fantasy fiction, especially with a pseudo-medieval setting, just of my personal acquaintance. Being the karma-minded idealist that I am, I considered setting up my own web database, listing both the terms and the synonyms, to be used as a resource for other authors. I already have two websites: one for Blackrock Wellness, and one for which I have not yet bought the domain, but where I will market my novels. Do I really want to take the time to create this database? Do I want to take the steps to collaborate with other writers and webmasters to create yet another helpful resource for writers, though I feel there are not enough resources for writers of my particular style and genre? Or should I continue to do my own research, create my own database, and share my work with those who ask?

However, I do know this: if anyone is actually reading my blog and would like to collaborate and share these terms and synonyms, please feel free to message me. I'll offer you what I've collected, and even if you have just a short list of terms I don't yet have, just one of those may enhance a vital scene. After all, can't you already imagine what type of man would be speaking this way:

“An’ so,” Durwin commented at the end, “ye didn’t turn the lass t’ debauchery at all. She was already a trollop.”

Current Mood: contemplative
Friday, May 23rd, 2008
5:09 pm
New from The Favorites
Released April 2008: Small Favor by Jim Butcher: Book 10 of the Dresden Files. For any fantasy-fiction fans who like tongue-in-cheek comedy, start at the beginning of the series (Storm Front) and work forward. Harry Dresden is a modern-day wizard (think: staffs, spells, and potions; don't think: funky religions and fundamentalist viewpoints) working in metropolitan Chicago, fighting the elements that we read about and see in movies, using very credible prose to explain how they could exist in real life. Jim Butcher has been a success since his first novel, and has a huge fan base for this very original series. He banked on a great idea before other authors could hit on it. Now to get the money up to buy the book...

Due to be released from Tamora Pierce: Bloodhound, book two of the Beka Cooper series, Tammy's 24th book since she published Alanna: The First Adventure in 1983. I first read Alanna when I was in junior high school, probably about eight years after she published it, and the Song of The Lioness quartet greatly influenced my writing hobby. All of her books are suitable for open-minded young adults (protective parents: there is some sex and violence, but not graphic) and a very fun read for adults. They feature original heroines who begin very young and go through life learning lessons, hence the appropriateness for young adults. My favorite heroine is still Alanna, though I think Keladry is more like I would be.

Come on Tammy, we're waiting!

Current Mood: excited
4:32 pm
Two Dreams Achieved
I'm on vacation right now.

I spent over a month fretting about my National exam for massage therapy, knowing that, if I did not pass it, I would have to find $175 more to take it again, which would be a huge burden on my husband, who is working two jobs while I get my education. Everyone just scoffed and said, with waves of their hands, "Oh, you'll pass it!" But I wasn't so sure. I felt that, if I allowed myself that bit of narcissism to think that, because I had gotten straight A's in school so far, I was destined to pass my National, I would be letting in that bit of weakness that could open the door to failure because I wasn't well enough prepared. We all know narcissists who ignore their weak spots, which leads to their doom. Those of us who write find this in our villains, and often in our protagonists. I couldn't afford that.

However, I couldn't let it consume my life, either. One of the best products of my 8-month hiatus from work was my boost in self-discovery. I am a better mother now than I have ever been, since I have surrounded myself with positive people (massage therapists are an eclectic group) and have not only seen a positive change in them, but in myself as well. When those final two weeks before the National arrived, I was determined to live my life and work on my other goals during those two weeks, that I was not consumed with angst. Three days before my test, I was in a study group with four other class members. Two days before my test, our study group was canceled but I studied on my own. The day before my test, I did absolutely no studying; I finished an entire chapter of Legacy, bringing myself within three chapters of finishing the rough draft. At 8:00pm, I took 3 Tylenol PM to ensure I would be asleep by 10pm. Though I try to avoid artificial treatments (drugs,) I know myself, and know that I'll fret about the test if I don't intervene, and have no sleep. At 6:00am I woke and got ready, and at 7:30am I was at the testing facility, being fingerprinted both upon entering and LEAVING the testing room (in case I change identities while testing.) I said five separate prayers while taking that test. When the computer asked if I was sure I wanted to finish testing, I clicked on "Yes" and waited for the results. The word was so small I had to lean in to read it: "Pass." I exhaled. I felt light-headed. Numbly, I rose and met the test administrator, got fingerprinted again, and got my printout. "So I passed?" I asked, figuring that, if a computer might be wrong about my score, a human would not. I received my congratulations and met my classmates outside the building. Of the six of us who studied together and tested together, four of us passed. I sent the text message to families and friends: "I PASSED!" The responses were unanimous: "Congrats. I knew you would." Don't you ever wish you had as much confidence in yourself as others have in you?

That was last Thursday. Since I cannot legally work as a massage therapist until I have either a temporary license or a real license in my hand, I'm on vacation. Temporary licenses in the State of Nevada take an average of 30 days from the day of graduation to process, and when I went into school after passing my national, the grades had not yet been entered into the computer, so I had not officially graduated. *Sigh.* Though the NCBTMB advises to wait six to eight weeks for processing of the national certification, which translates directly into state certification with the required hours, schoolmates have gotten their licenses within two weeks of submission. So the way I figure it, I have at least this week and next week as vacation. Luckily, my husband feels the same way. Relax. Enjoy your life. Work on your other goals.

Which leads to completion of Dream #2: completion of the rough draft of Werian Legacy. Today, at 3:30pm, I typed the final word and did the word count: just over 100,000 words. Perfect for a first-time novel, though this is my second novel I intend to submit for publication. Heroes of Edurne is just over 130,000 words, and I need to tighten up the prose and shorten it a bit.

Next steps: 1) Update the Blackrock Wellness website with new articles, fresh promotions, and information on where to find me if you would like to receive a massage. 2) Buy a laser printer and publish my intake information and waivers for both massage therapy and my self-defense classes. 3) Save Legacy to several backup drives and turn my attention to Heroes. I have had three people critique it, and those people are on different levels within the book. My toughest critic, my husband, has finished and has inundated my pages with comments. I have been fixing problems since he first started complaining about them. All three critics believe I can get this published. I'm excited, but still a bit scared. What if, what if...

After polishing Heroes, I will be building a website with the same elements that will be contained within a manuscript submission: a synopsis, a few character outlines, a biography of the author, and the first two chapters. The website will also give a brief outline of Legacy, with the first section. The website, along with query letters and emails, will be sent to prospective agents and publishers. Here's wishing and hoping.

Dreams... check. It's a start, anyway, and further than I ever thought I could go.

Current Mood: excited
Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
8:40 pm
Bursts of Creativity Splash in Your Face
It's 8:30, and I wanted to try to be in bed by 9, so I'm well rested for the 5am workout tomorrow. Yet, I can't find myself doing what I need to do before bed: study for my practical anatomy final.

Creativity has struck again and Legacy is open on the monitor, and I'm speed-typing, helping Aeric and Lea convince the Hielgar thugs that Aeric is still a good little soldier, so they don't cut off his head and return it to his brother for the reward. Eian is about to sail up the coast, and right when the Hielgar men ambush him, Aeric will cut Lea's bonds and give her a dagger. Then Aeric has to convince Eian that he's not the enemy anymore, but Eian still believes Aeric killed Buirich, and captures him to turn him in to King Bannic and win a bit more amicability between the kingdoms. And Tiel, the nastiest of the Hielgar thugs, escaped, and now Aeric is committed to guarding Lea from a distance, because soon Dalach will know they're all alive and be after all their heads.

But I don't need to be working on Legacy right now. I need to be studying how the biceps femoris attaches to the ischial tuberosity and, combined with the semitendinosus and semimembrinosus, work to flex the popliteal joint, and how the piriformis is the strongest lateral flexor of the hip and lies across the sciatic nerve, between the ischial tuberosity and the greater trocanter, becoming an entrapper.

My national exam is less than 7 weeks away. Today, I took a practice exam and got 122 out of 160 questions correct. The school director responded, "Well... well, that's still passing." *sigh* I thought I was doing fine! I have straight A's so far, and 122 is "still passing." In order to ace that exam, I'll need to spend at least two out of seven days studying. Sadly, two out of seven days is about the time I can dedicate to my true loves, like the Amara books.

It feels like betrayal to tell Aeric and Lea that they have to wait until I have my certification, that they have to sit on that cliff awhile longer and avoid hired thugs and a merciless, depraved brother. Eian will have to sit offshore for two months, not knowing if his sister is alive or dead, and knowing full well that Dalach will try to capture and torture him for what his wife did to the Hielgar army two years before.

Maybe I can sneak in a few paragraphs here and there.

Oh look, it's 9:06. Darn.

Current Mood: creative
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
6:04 pm
Blogging to Success
Writer's Digest suggests it. Writing Forward advocates it. My two favorite authors have Livejournal accounts. And so I, too, am going to refocus my blogging on success. Or, at least, potential success. Enough of this "potential" nonsense; it will happen. And so, here I draw out my timeline:

Phase I of Blackrock Wellness: going on now
Pass national test for massage therapy: May 15, 2008
Become licensed in massage therapy: May 23, 2008
Establish online community on blackrockwellness.com: July 2008
Submit Heroes of Edurne to editors: August, 2008
Finish rough draft of Werian Legacy: December 2008
Establish blackrockwellness.com as a local resource for alternative health: end of 2008
Achieve warrior woman body: by the end of 2008
Begin rough draft of Fraomar and Alazne while Legacy is in critique: August 2009
Submit Werian Legacy for publication: December 2009
Finish rough draft of Fraomar: May 2010
Submit Fraomar for publication: December 2010
Phase II of Blackrock Wellness: by January 2011
Establishment of Amara series as a regular product in American bookstores: 2012
Phase III of Blackrock Wellness: 2013

Everything else is steps toward landmarks.
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007
1:32 pm
Take that, Mainstream America!!!
Go ahead and go to Myspace so you can be "friends" with all the big-name stars who hire people to put up profiles!

Thank you, but Jim Butcher is on Livejournal, and he blogs it all himself!!!
Sunday, November 5th, 2006
6:43 pm
Fat-free Cheese: A Review
Today, we tried Lifetime Fat Free Swiss cheese. It was about $1.50 more per 8-oz package than regular cheeses, but we decided to treat ourselves and give it a try. The package had many promises: Only 40 calories (per oz), melts well, non-fat, higher calcium, rennetless.

I made quesadillas as a won't-get-on-your-clothes lunch before church. The kids had regular Kraft provalone and Russ and I had the fat-free cheese. We put it on Mission multigrain tortillas with raw mushroom pieces. To add flavor, Russ and I sprinkled ours liberally with El Pato hot sauce.

We needed the hot sauce. The cheese was very bland and didn't taste much like swiss. I'm happy to say it DID at least taste like cheese. And what would have been a 270-calorie quesadilla with 12 grams of fat was a 190-calorie quesadilla with 4 grams of fat.

The verdict: if you're willing to spend the money and want to go the extra mile for your health, buy this and use it for foods that rely on other flavors, like spaghetti, lasagna, or enchiladas. If you're a cheese aficionado, skip this cheese, cut your fat and calories elsewhere, and buy what will satisfy your tastes.
Thursday, October 26th, 2006
10:22 pm
It's official. I'm in the Identity Theft Victims Club. And if it was a credit card commercial, my voice would probably be played by a computer nerd, considering my info was used to by about $125 worth of Symantec antivirus protection over the internet. It could have been higher charges, but my card has a $300 limit and I had $112 credit on the card before the theft. Luckily, Symantec customer service was very cooperative about refunding the money, and it should be back on the card within 10 days. Now let's see if I can convince the credit card to reverse the $58 overlimit charge incurred and cancel the card in a timely manner so I don't get more charges.
Friday, October 20th, 2006
6:38 pm
Psychotherapy when you can't get out of the house to buy your own:

http://fun.from.hell.pl/2003-11-24/bubblewrap.swf
Monday, October 16th, 2006
11:03 pm
And the winner of today's "That's Just Not Right" category:

http://www.abcunderwear.com/hammerhead-leotard.html

Safe for work... if nobody is looking over your shoulder.
Sunday, October 15th, 2006
9:39 pm
9:05 pm
Situational humor: watching some stranger from across the country play a satisfying 20-minute checkers game on Pogo.com, with absolutely no clue his opponent is a 7-year-old.
Tuesday, October 10th, 2006
3:14 pm
A gift from Stumbleupon, and given to you by me: a fan of tongue-in-cheek humor:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=KmsOIjzQ1V8

So-so safe for work (a few cuss words and political satire)
Sunday, October 1st, 2006
9:44 pm
Another for my possible cookbook
Health-Nazi Banana Muffins
(I will be changing the name if and when I publish the cookbook. Not good to offend your customers.)
Contains all 4 food groups, high in fiber and complex carbs. Higher in protein than most baked goods. Uses heart-heathy fats.

Good for:
-people with heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
-hypoglycemics
-diabetics (may want to omit raisins)
-vegetarians (I'm working on a vegan alternative)
-women: high in calcium, folic acid, and soy
-people who want to replace simple carbs in their diets with more complex carbs and fiber
-people who want to eat healthier but have absolutely no time in the mornings
-people who want to loose weight the healthy way and need a good morning start

Sorry to:
-people with gluten sensitivity. Still working on a wheat alternative.
-people with certain food allergies. Allergic to tree nuts: simply omit almonds. Allergic to dairy: try substituting light soy milk.

Ingredients:

2 c. mashed overripe bananas
1 c. nonfat milk
1/2 c. canola or olive oil
3 large eggs
1 c. Splenda
1/4 c. sugar (may substitute 1/4 cup more Splenda, especially for diabetics)
3 T. cinnamon
2 and 1/2 c. white or whole-wheat flour
1 c. soy flour
1/4 c. oat bran
1/4 c. wheat bran
1 c. old-fashioned oats
5 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 c. COOKED 7-grain hot cereal (see tips)
2 c. raisins or substitute (dried cranberries, dried blueberries)
1 c. sliced almonds

Mix well: bananas, milk, oil, eggs, Splenda and sugar, and cinnamon. Add remaining ingredients, mixing just until flour is moistened. Grease muffin cups or use muffin liners. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

Tips:
- These aren't your light and fluffy high-carb convenience-store muffins. These are denser and heartier, like many breakfast bars on the market. 2-3 standard-size muffins with a glass of nonfat milk and a piece of fruit will make a great vegetarian breakfast.
- All the ingredients can be found in the bulk-foods section of Winco, with the exception of the bananas and Splenda (check baking aisle for Splenda.)
- Using stoneware muffin pans helps make the outside crust lighter and flakier, while retaining moisture.
- While still slightly warm, lock in airtight containers like freezer bags to retain more moisture.
- 7-grain cereal: buy in Winco bulk foods section and cook using 3/4 cup cereal and 2-1/4 cups water. Boil 10 minutes, then sit, covered, 5 more minutes before adding to batter. If no Winco is available where you live, look for Hodgson Mill 7-grain or 10-grain cereals in the cereal aisle or health-foods section.
- Toss a handful of whole flax seed (Winco) into 7-grain cereal while cooking for extra heart-healthy benefits.
- Easy to store: bananas may be previously frozen then thawed before use, and muffins may be frozen for up to 2 months afterward. Be sure to use air-tight freezer containers.
- If you desire butter, try using Smart Balance Light spread (sold alongside butter and margarine) at 45 calories per tablespoon and full of omega-3 fats, versus butter (100 calories per tablespoon) or margarine (80 calories per tablespoon and full of trans fat.)

If you end up trying this recipe, please message me and let me know how they turned out!
Wednesday, September 27th, 2006
7:45 pm
I can't resist
Once in awhile, my email-forwarding friends send me something worth sending on!

http://www.i-am-bored.com/bored_link.cfm?link_id=19788

Totally safe for work! Turn the sound up to get the full effect.
Tuesday, September 26th, 2006
10:04 pm
MP3 players
Any advice on buying MP3 players? Russ and I want to get them for each other during Christmas (plus the surprises we're getting each other.) We want something we can strap onto our bodies for workouts, that have the capacity to hold several files, depending on the type of music we want to listen to while working out. I'd like to put up to 20 songs in several different files, so I can just click on the kind I want. I've read that the MP3 players that hold more music aren't good for fast-paced workouts. Also, where's the best place to buy one?
Saturday, September 23rd, 2006
6:53 pm
Holy cow, is this true?
Today, I stumbled onto Ebay to browse for Christmas ideas for Russ, and searched for "globes," since he's the cerebral type. I found this: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230029744012 a red jasper gemstone globe, 12", up for auction with a $98 shipping charge (which is appropriate, considering I've worked in shipping and this will be a heavy object that requires a large box, padding, and insurance). The seller had a 97% approval rating and most of his gemstone globes sold for $200-$300, plus $60-$90 shipping. It had no minimum bid and a previous bid of $5, so I bid $5.50. The auction ended 5 minutes later, and I won the globe.

I'm worried that something might be wrong with it, but Russ (who doesn't know what it is, just that it's a high-dollar item that I won for $5.50) said sometimes those vendors put one up for open auction to see what the interest is, or they just anticipated a much higher dollar bid. I didn't pay immediately and waited a few hours to see if the seller would send an email saying, "uh... I can't sell for this little," but 7 hours later, I got an email from the seller, saying, "You won! Please pay $5.50 plus shipping."

So do you think I'm really that lucky?
Friday, September 22nd, 2006
11:55 pm
Getting older
On the lighter side: that L'Oreal Age Rewind foundation really does fill in the cracks and crevices. And it smells appropriately like modelling clay. However, it really did make my skin look good, and I even got a comment at work that I looked better, which was miraculous, considering I felt like crap.

On the darker side: my old health nemesis is back. We'll just call him Nemesis, because he has never yet been diagnosed. When I was 7 months pregnant with Sahara and Nemesis made my legs turn dark royal purple, then made the veins in my right leg swell up to 2" widths and burst through my flesh in no fewer than five places, doctors at the county hospital ran a series of tests for blood-clotting disorders such as lupus. Funny, I never heard the results, so I assume they found none. My perfectly-healthy baby girl was induced and born a full 30 days early, and the pain subsided.

That is, for a few months. You see, because of the intense vascular pain, I did little eating during the last few months of the pregnancy, and walked out of the hospital and back into my size 12 jeans. But the repurcussions from the physical trauma, added to the 4-month length of stay-at-home-momness, packed the weight on my body. By the time I went back to work in a warehouse, I topped out at 202 lbs. I had daily pain, and kept thinking, "I feel like I just have too much blood." But I soon started working out and that (combined with working 2 jobs and keeping my family afloat in a horrible marriage, and giving up food so my kids could have it) helped melt the weight. When I was back down below 180 lbs, I had no more pain.

I kept the weight off for 4 years. But meeting a great guy who appreciates food as much as I do and doesn't pressure me to work two jobs has increased happiness in quantities far surpassing my increased butt size. By the time I got this new and current warehouse job, I topped out at 195 lbs... 20 lbs overweight. I've lost 5 of that, but the rest refuses to budge.

Only 15 friggin pounds! What the heck! But... I am 5 years older now, too. Man... I come home from work with painful, swollen veins and pain from my calves to where my legs meet the rest of me. It hurts so bad I just come home and lay down... I haven't made it to the gym since last Sunday. Again, it feels like I have too much blood, though I gave a double donation only a month ago. And even more, I'm worried about blood clotting. The consensus is apparently that I just plain can not be overweight.

I work out 3-5 days a week when I'm feeling well, and burn a minimum of 500 calories per workout. I eat very healthy during the day (Red River Cereal, skim milk, salads with grilled chicken and balsamic vinegar.) And I have lost the amount of weight in 2 sports bottles of water. But I have a sweet tooth, and the only thing I can imagine now is to cut out simply ALL refined sugar products. No more desserts unless they're fresh fruit, made with Splenda, or the traditional European cheese-as-dessert idea. Once I get used to the no-sugar idea, I'm going to work on cutting out all simple carbs and only eating the carbs in complex grains and fresh fruits/vegetables.

If I want to be walking in the next 10 years, I guess it's what has to happen.
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