Monday, October 31, 2016

A New Hope?

No, I'm not referring to classic Star Wars.



When I talked about Graston and acupuncture last week, one of you mentioned that you had dry needling done.  When I read that, I remembered hearing the term before but couldn't remember what it was and looked it up.  It basically takes acupuncture needles, sticks them in the knots of your bunged up muscle (wherever that may be) and forces the muscle to release, realize it's injured (on a minor level) and lay down new nerves and pain responses to basically give the injury you're going through amnesia for it's current incorrect coping mechanism.

I found a place on the other side of town that said no referral was needed (of course our insurance ended up saying we needed one...jerks) so I set up a consult for Friday morning.  The guy said they deal with compartment syndrome all the time and he thought this could be really successful for me.  This sounded better to both the Mr and I than going systemic with the suggested muscle relaxers the chiro wanted to go with because I just don't mess around with meds especially of the addictive kind.  I see people close to me who are addicted to them though they would never in a million years consider themselves to be.  Not a chance I'm willing to take unless forced.  When I had my chiro appointment last Thursday, I told him I was at the point I was ready for whatever invasive measure needed to happen and when he mentioned the muscle relaxers, I told him the PCP was booked out a month and that as an alternative I booked a consult with a physical therapist to see if I would be a candidate for dry needling.  He perked up and was very excited that I had taken the step to do that.  He said we need to get aggressive and that my life has been disrupted too long by this and at this point he doesn't care who gets me better, as long as I get better.  When I told him I was sore after WATP, particularly after side to sides and hamstring curls, he asked me to demonstrate a curl and when I did, his eyes widened and he said "no...stop doing that.  That is lengthening and shortening your hamstring and a hamstring is not meant to be worked that way so, no more of that.  Basically do any cardio that doesn't do that."  I said "soooo...walking only."  He sheepishly grinned and said "yeah, pretty much."

The Mr went with me to my consult and as is typical "me" fashion, I wrote down my symptoms, method of treatment and problems I've had going back to 2012.  I also mentioned losing over 200 lbs and that exercise is 6 days per week.  (I am ALWAYS making sure new doctors know I have lost a poopload of weight and exercise regularly so as not to make assumptions about me based on my size.)  She went over the list I gave her, which ALL doctors seem to love by the way so if you want to make sure your doc knows everything you need them to know, write a summary of symptoms and treatments before your appointment.  She recorded me walking both with and without my shoes on.  She did see how guarded my legs are when I walk with no shoes on and my "cheat" to not put my foot down.  She watched me go up and down a set of stairs and said other than the no shoes cheat, she didn't see anything of major concern there which was good.  Then came the range of motion and flexion tests.  I knew I wasn't going to have great results especially on the left side and it did start to yank on me and she told me I was the boss so if something hurt, tell her I'm stopping.

Then came the strength tests.  Wow.  She had me try to oppose her or not let her push my leg down from different angles.  When it came to pushing my hips down, it was downright pathetic and couldn't stop her at all.  I mean when you're my size, you're doing good enough just to hold your leg up but to have someone say "don't let me push you down", it was darn near impossible and before that I would've just attributed it to me having big legs.  Nope.  Basically...my ass is failing me.  Literally.  I have ZERO strength in my gluteus medius or maximus.  I said "would clamshells help with that?" and she said "YES!!!  Why?"  I shrunk and said "I may have been told to do those before and didn't keep up with them."  She laughed and said that was okay but I told her I thought it was just for when I was being treated for TTS and she said do it every day for the rest of my life because it will keep those muscles and my legs strong.  (You too guys!  Especially if you have a desk job for sure!)  I told her that because of this condition, I have not been able to do a lower body strength session including squats or any cardio involving extensive lower body.  She said she understood that and that needed to happen in order to do the initial healing.  But now we needed to get inside of the muscle, relieve the pressure and tightness and as I heal from those micro-traumas, she will give me physical therapy exercises to do that will strengthen my lower body so that the butt does it's job to lift and support everything below it to have a normal functioning leg.  Like you know the hamstring curls he doesn't want me to do?  The reason I'm so sore around my knees and lower thighs is because my rump doesn't have the strength to pull up my quads the way they're supposed to.  She showed me anatomy books and explained what was going on, where we were going to target and we'd deal with my "pissed off muscles" and that will likely include Graston to get rid of the adhesions (oy) as well as dry needling and such.

I initially told her that I asked my chiro Thursday if there was any possibility of being better by our Christmas trip and he kind of shook his head no.  I said when I booked the trip, I envisioned the Mr and I snowshoeing around our property and at this point, I'd be happy with "hey, I can walk beside him without THINKING of walking."  She said "snowshoeing in the snow is the goal."   I think she took that as a challenge.  LOL  I told her when I told the chiro that, he said his goal was to get me back to doing all of the exercises I did before with no restrictions.  She agreed and said she absolutely thinks together they will get me there.  I burst into tears and felt so relieved at a plan that not only addresses the current problem but sets me up to get stronger for the future so that this is no longer my life of every two years having some leg issue and spending 6 months recovering.

Then she said she'd go ahead and do some needling on me which I didn't expect since they said none would be done when I made the appointment.  (But secretly, I hoped she would)  She decided to just do the left side (my problem child) in a "low dose" to see how I reacted to it so that both legs weren't sore at once.  I only felt a slight pinch once or twice but the Mr said there were about 10 needles in my leg.  One of them in the most tender spot did kind of twitch a bit and she said that is the response we're looking for and it should get better in a few minutes.  It did lessen about 5 minutes later.  After 10 minutes, she took them out and said she wants to see me twice a week for at least the next month to see how I do.  When I got off the table she was like "how is it, does it feel better?" and I was thinking "lady, this isn't some miracle treatment!"  I said, 'yeah, it's a little looser' and it kind of was.  But we went to a grocery store afterward and I was amazed at how much it loosened further in just 10 minutes.  I kind of wished she'd done the right side too because then it felt super tight in comparison.  I swear I felt like Jell-o in the left leg sometimes because my ankle is not used to having that kind of motion in it.

As the night progressed, I got more and more sore at the needle sites, particularly the twitchy one because that's where my compression sleeve rubbed a bit.  We walked the hood for an hour and I made special attention to walk normally and not guard myself even when I was in my house slip ons because they are flatter and tend to stretch those muscles a little more.  I had to keep telling myself if I guarded and shortened/tensed those muscles, I was going to stunt my healing.  So I'm making a real effort to walk as normally as possible.  The next day, it was pretty throbby and sore but honestly, the right side felt the same but tight muscle wise.  If that was low dose, this will likely be a sore road ahead but if it means I don't have to go through this every year, I'll suck it up and do what I need to do.

For the first time in a while, I have a new hope that maybe I can actually beat this.  That maybe the Mr won't have to listen to me gripe about it or watch me wince in pain while doing nothing more than bending over or just standing there.  Of course this means I will have 3 doctors appointments per week at least from now to Christmas with two of them being 35 minutes away but if it means I will get better and stay better, I don't care.  I will do what I have to.  Hopefully it will be the final component to speed this shizz up.  Mama's got too much to do to be sidelined any longer!

Have you ever done physical therapy for a chronic injury?

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Friday, October 28, 2016

What I'm Reading This Week #43

It's finally Friday!  Woo hoo!

Happy last weekend of October!  Let's get right to...



10 Herbs and Spices to Help You Lose Weight  (Yum!)

Dynamic Warm-up: A 10 Minute Pre-Workout Routine for Women  (Unless I'm missing something, I think you dudes can do it too)

Researchers Find a Concerning Link Between Obesity and Liver Cancer  (Great)

7 Foods to Eat When You're Sick   (Get in those vitamins!)

What to Do When You're Too Tired to Work Out  (Good tips!)

12 Fall and Winter Superfoods  (Them's some good eats right there!)

Stress May Erase the Benefits of Healthful Eating  (Then I'd better get mine under control asap!)

6 Foods That Lower Brain Health  (Mostly good on that front but sorry not doing less than a serving of cheese per week!)

John Candy Remembered by His Children  (Some great stories in this one)

Tom Hanks Reunites With Zoltar And Asks Him To Make Him 30 Years Old Again  (This is awesome!)

Chris Sarandon Shares Freaky Tales from 'Fright Night', 'Childs Play' and 'The Nightmare Before Christmas.'  (He ushered me into puberty in Fright Night...that scene with Amanda Bearse in the club or back at his place?  Me-ow!)

Jimmy & Justin Timberlake Sing "Ironic" at Camp Winnipesaukee   (Love these two when they're together!)

Flaming Bag of Poo  (Who remembers sending this one around the office about 15 years ago?  I remember hearing people open it across the office.  Classic!)

It's Halloween weekend and since relying on parents to, you know, parent is a crap shoot nowadays be aware that little goblins and ghouls will be running amok on sugar highs.  So drive slowly in neighborhoods between 5-8pm pretty much from today until Monday night.

Any plans for the weekend?  What did you get to give out, if anything?  (We got Laffy Taffy and Hubba Bubba gum so when no one shows up, the Mr can just take them to work Wednesday with the rest of the people who had leftovers.)


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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Another Tool in the Arsenal

A month or so ago, the Mr talked about the possibility of getting a vibration plate to help with his plantar fasciitis and maybe my condition as well.  When he told me the one he was looking at was $500, that about closed the subject for me.  Sensing his irritation, I told him to ask the chiro at his next appointment to get his opinion.

He talked about it with him and mentioned what he read about not just muscle therapy but also about building bone density, boosting weight loss/metabolism, reducing joint and back pain, etc.  He said he didn't really think it would help or hurt with his plantar fasciitis but it could help me with mine.  He said he didn't know anything about the weight aspect but he said as far as bone density, the strength training we currently do probably builds more bone density.  So it didn't sound like it would be some miracle but he said it's always good to have as many tools in the arsenal as you can.  We kind of tabled the idea until after our trip.  After last week's major setback, he brought it up again and said he found one for half the price but looked powerful enough.  So we ordered it and Tuesday, this bad boy arrived.


The Merax Vibration Platform Fitness Machine was $250 and the lower end of the vibration scale is more for muscle conditioning and therapy because it challenges your balance and muscles to stabilize.  Needless to say, I stay away from that mode right now.  I don't need to be challenging muscles that are already locked.  The higher end of the spectrum tops out at 99 and shakes you like one of those old school "shake the fat off" belt machines.  I will not use it anywhere near a mirror because if you don't have body image issues before you see yourself on it, you sure as hell will after you see every inch of you from your spare tire to cheeks rattling around.  I have used it after workouts to help loosen muscles after rolling and the past two mornings, I've used it as soon as I got up just to help improve circulation (one of the other benefit claims) and shake the muscles awake a bit.

It's obviously way too early to tell if vibration therapy will work for either of us with our current situations but it did help me when I was rehabbing with TTS a few years ago.  I will talk to the chiro today to see if he has any specific things he wants me to do on it.  I think it could be good to have another tool in the arsenal, if not to heal, to maintain leg health for both of us.  I will definitely report back on if/how it helps!

Have you ever done vibration therapy/owned a vibration board?

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tube Talk

Not gonna lie...I've got nothin'!  LOL

So how about we talk the boob tube?



We're pretty well into most tv shows having returned or getting close to it.  It's been long enough for the new shows to be premiered so here's what we recorded and what we thought (so far.)

The Good Place: We were waiting anxiously for this premiere, the teasers totally drew us in.  We loved the first episode until we got to the end and some kind of flying shrimp or something like that happened and it made it clear it was a little more fantastical than initially led to believe.  We do like watching Kristen Bell and Ted Danson in their roles especially but it took a little more getting used to than we thought.  What we thought would be our top show turned into filler unless something picks up.

American Housewife:  We tried two episodes and just couldn't do it.  It has nothing to do with the fact we don't have kids and can't relate because there are plenty of shows that do have kids and try to portray "realness" of the modern parents struggle.  But this one just seemed, I don't even know what.  The way the woman constantly referred to "Fat Pam" and that she didn't want to be the 2nd fattest housewife and blah blah just took waaaaay too much precedence in the first episode.  We said we'd give it a second shot but it just proved that the lead characters brand of constant snark wasn't for us.  Pulled from the DVR.

Bull:  I was never a big NCIS fan though it always seemed to randomly end up on our screen when we watched TV mindlessly.  So I wasn't sure when Michael Weatherly left to do his own show if I'd even care.  I decided to give it a shot and I'm pleasantly surprised by it!  There may be only so far this show can go though because it is about juries and how to get a win so it's like how many seasons do they think they can eek out with that premise?  We'll see and I'll be watching until it no longer entertains.  Thumbs up from me and I think the last show reeled in the Mr.

This Is Us:  I mean come on...are there many people that aren't watching/raving about this show?  The Mr included!  He will actually put down the laptop and glue his eyes to the screen for it.  The way the heavy couple is portrayed in this one is a lot more real than the obnoxious way it's addressed in American Housewife because the girl in this is actually obese and doesn't just look like an average sized woman holding a little in the face and arms griping about her weight.  I was happy to see Justin Hartley from Y&R getting a good role in it too.  He's so much more than soaps gave him to work with much like his "Manny character."  The twists just never stop and it's totally compelling.  Some people call it the new "Parenthood" and I'm sorry but that's almost insulting because Parenthood made me want to ram my head into the wall more than once per show.  This show is just pure magic.  Fans until they pull the plug!

Timeless:  The Mr was SOOO excited about this show and so was I honestly.  Time travelers going back to infamous dates in history to try to stop a mad man in another time machine.  The goal is to not alter history and all that jazz.  Well when history is altered, it just seems like they leave a LOT of loose ends and skirt around issues that just don't fly with our country's sordid past.  One of the time travelers is black and unfortunately almost every scenario would not have been plausible the way they play out.  He is by far the strongest and most likable character on the show.  It just all feels very rushed and kind of a let down in casting because the other two leads aren't very strong, in our opinions.  The show has major potential but something just isn't right.  If it gets renewed, we don't know if it'll be renewed on our DVR for next season.

What new shows are you watching?  Pulled any from the DVR/watch list yet?

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

One step forward, two steps back

(via Pinterest)

Before we left for the trip, my chiro visit went pretty good.  He was very happy with the tissue and said it was completely healed and was happy to hear the addition of walking workouts didn't seem to entail any more soreness that one would expect.  The only thing we still needed to address was the occasional yank my ankle would give but he assured me that would likely be the last thing to heal but it would heal.

Enter our vacation.  A hike on the Stony Man trail would not have had me blink a year ago.  While I was aware of my legs as I ascended, I didn't notice anything too out of the ordinary.  As the trail gets steeper toward the top, I did notice my legs getting tighter and I couldn't wait to get back to the car to roll out with our little stick.  (I swear we have one of those things on every floor of the house and in the car...kind of sad, I know.)  I was gingerly as I maneuvered the peak and rocks to find our spot to hang out 20 minutes or so.  It was worth it and more than I could've asked for when planning the trip as far as his reaction so I didn't think of anything else...

...until we were about halfway down.

The front of my legs were working overtime along with my stabilizer muscles and the back of the calf.  I had to stop a few times and it was even getting to the Mr as well.  We did enough of a roll out at the car to make the legs not seize up on us but that was about it.  I was sore and yanky for the next 2 days and by the 3rd day, when I was finally feeling some relief, we went to Monticello.  It's a shuttle bus up but no biggie.  They told us about a leisurely walk from the home to Jefferson's grave and then downhill trail back to the visitors center which is about .65 miles total.  Sure, I could totally do that.  Well, apparently the term "leisurely downhill trail" is subjective because holy hell that thing was steep.  It was so steep in fact that I had to basically run down parts of it because I knew if the front of my legs were going to attempt to stop my body from this angle, I would blow something out for sure.  It was fun though holding hands with the Mr running and laughing down the path so that's a good memory.  Unfortunately, that is when my legs flew into a condition that plagues me still.

I was desperate to see the chiro upon our return but being sick, I couldn't move up my appointment even if I wanted to.  What I did know is that both legs were very sore and the doc asked how the surprise went and to describe what went on to ratchet my leg pain number up from 5 pre-trip to 7 post-trip.  I told him about the downhill issues and he visibly cringed both times.  He said "wow, that's a LOT of intrinsic work for your legs to handle."  I told him I needed to know what to do between visits because I'm getting irritated and tired of taking one step forward and two steps back.  He told me the duck walk he'd instructed before should help and shouldn't yank.  (Well, it does yank so yeah.)  Sensing my frustration, he said he was going to use an extremity drop board on my left foot because my ankle was basically totally locked.  No mobility hardly at all.  Yay?  This is what it looks like:


He put my foot on there and adjusted it 10 ways to Sunday.  Some of it pulled a bit but it was worse when he yanked on my foot to try to give some pressure release.  He said basically what happened is thankfully there is no damage to the tissue but my muscle memory has kicked in as a result of the hikes back to what it was after being crammed in the airplane and aren't releasing on their own.  He said that he doesn't like to but thinks we may need to go "systemic" meaning having my doc prescribe some muscle relaxers so that when he does further treatments they're with the muscles in a relaxed state.  I'm not crazy about that idea but I wanted to do some stuff on my own to see if I could make any headway on my own first before going that route.

He mentioned the Graston technique but said he doesn't like to do it if he doesn't have to because it's not comfortable and is honestly kind of painful.  You know what's painful?  Standing at a grocery cart and having your ankle pull for no reason.  Or one better, when you're suffering from the black death flu and getting out of the bathtub and your ankle pulls so damn hard it nearly sends you through the wall in pain and then you cry for 10 minutes.  I think I can nut up for a couple Graston sessions.  For those who don't know what that is, this video would be similar to what I'd need done and the instruments or blunt blades, not sharp.  For the first time, he mentioned someone else who had a similar issue and had surgery and she's running marathons again.  I think by the look on my face he knew he'd better follow up with the next statement..."I do NOT think that is what we've got here or that you'll need it!  I just want you to know that there are many other options than what we're doing."

So this week I have been doing trigger point release and rolling my legs like hell.  The second I feel a tensing, I grab that stick and roll it like dough.  I've been using a new baseball for rolling my feet, which got SO tight on me last week that my arches seized up on me the day of my chiro appointment.  I can feel a SUPER tender spot on my ankle where things aren't flossing on that side so I lay the most tender part there and when it lessens, I take my foot off of it.  You've got memory muscle?  Well I'm here to give you amnesia mother effer!

The Mr has ordered a vibration board and the chiro mentioned in passing it could help me too so that'll be here today.  I'll ask him for specific things to do on there that could aid healing.  The Mr also said I might want to bite the bullet on acupuncture.  I won't lie, after seeing a video or two on it my eyes about bulged out of my head but the chiro did mention it about a month ago that it could speed healing.  I'm getting desperate so it might be time to call me the human pin cushion and scrape me like he's zesting an orange.  I will be crushed if I am still dealing with this at Christmas and I will do whatever it takes to push through this setback.

Anyone ever had Graston or acupuncture done?

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Random pics and facts

Happy Monday, you sassy people you!

Hey, did I mention the cabin we stayed at had a built in abandoned house AND cemetery on site?

Did I mention that growing up on 80's slasher movies means if this had been mentioned at all on the listing, we would not have stayed there given I do a good enough job freaking myself out have actually had to leave cabins before!?  Thankfully, no Criminal Minds kind of shizz went down in the house and all inhabitants of their graves seemed to stay put.

So we're going to clear that image with a puppy.


I apparently had a dorky look on my face when looking at these because I caught the cashier dude looking at me with a smile on his face at the smile on my face.


Christmas glee radiates from the inside out, yo.

Sometimes when you say "I have a mountain of laundry," you mean it.


What did you guys do this weekend or random thought would you like to share?

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Friday, October 21, 2016

What I'm Reading This Week #42

It's Friday...woo hoo!!  

Let's cut to the chase and get right to...


A New 'Naked Juice' Lawsuit Claims the Drinks Aren't As Healthy As They May Seem  (In case any of you drink 'em)

20 Heart-Healthy Fall Meals  (Yummy!)

10 Organization Tricks to Make Your Vanity Feel Twice as Big  (The two tiered basket thingy is awesome, now I just need to find one small enough to fit in our space!)

The Secret Ingredient For Maximum Results  (Wish more people would get this instead of trying to force their chosen lifestyle on others.  What works for you may not work for me and that's OKAY!)

The Crazy-Common Thing That Makes Your Morning After Pill Ineffective  (This is SUPER IMPORTANT for any overweight/obese woman who should find herself in the circumstance of needing it!)

JoJo: ‘I Will Never Have a Thigh Gap and It’s All Good’  (Good on ya girl!)

Mom Takes Disabled Husband To Olive Garden, Then Stranger Leaves Rude Note About Their Looks  (To the person who left the note...may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits)

These NSFW Photos Get Super Real About the Before and After of Extreme Weight Loss  (Again...NSFW but yeah, kind of nails it.  Losing a ton of weight is nowhere near the end of the journey!)

Flight Attendant Adopts Dog That Waited for Her Outside Her Hotel  (Aww, welcome home nugget!)

25 Awesome Halloween Candies You Need to Know About  (Those Sweet Tarts bones remind me of those Mr Bones Candy Coffins from back in the day!)

We've Unwrapped the Calorie Counts of Your Favorite Halloween Candy  (And now to kill the joy)

The heartwarming reason why a N.M. boy asked his mom to pack 2 school lunches  (Hope for the future!)

I seriously almost wee'd watching this  (Don't drink anything while watching it)

No clue what's going on this weekend, it'll depend on how I feel and if I can taste or not.  I think the Mr wants to watch Pet Sematery so I think we'll likely do that since Halloween is practically upon us and it's time to break out the 80's scary movies.  (Especially since our cabin stay is over and I don't have to worry about creeping myself out.  Did I mention there was an abandoned creepy ass house AND a cemetery on the property!?  Yeah...NOT in the brochure!)

What are you into this weekend?

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Extra souvenirs



It's been quite a week.  I came home with an extra souvenir from Virginia...a version of a black death cold that started the day we left.  So you can imagine with a serious flu looming that driving up and down hills was not conducive to a comfortable drive home for me.

By the next day, it had me so weak it took me 30 minutes to get from the bottom of my bed to the top after a bath.  I was then in bed for 16 hours unable to eat or move except to put ice packs and heating pads on aching joints.  My meals consisted of Belvita crackers samples and dry Cheerios because I was so nauseous.  I had to skip workouts Sunday and Monday because I had zero ability to do so.  This was especially irritating given for the first time EVER on vacation, we exercised every single day.  I was super proud of us for doing so.  The Mr was able to workout so he did while I mouth breathed and shared a blood supply with the couch or bed.

As if being sick wasn't enough, the legs did not appreciate the hikes the few days we were out as well as keeping up with the exercise.  I've now taken to calling my ankle my "yankle" because when I went to get out of the bathtub, it yanked so hard I cried for 10 minutes.  It is VERY frustrating to go on what I used to consider a pretty easy hike and have it pull me back progress wise.

I have a chiro appointment today and am going to talk to him about giving me specific exercises to do in between appointments because I need to move this progress along especially if the tissue as a whole remains healthy and I didn't do any damage.

So it's been kind of a crappy week of recovery on many fronts for me this week.  I'm still sick and almost always go for a full 10 days when I get sick so I'm about at the halfway point if past colds are any indicator.

I'm pretty sure I picked it up at Luray Caverns where everyone around us was hacking.  You couple that with the lack of eating consistent fruits and veggies daily like I usually do so I don't have any vitamin C, the immense stress I was under in the month leading up to it and doubly so hoping all was pulled off as planned that week to lack of water (AGAIN!  WHY is this such an issue for me when traveling!?) and my system was pretty much doomed.

I will absolutely take my Airtamer Travel Air Purifier with me on future trips and just tuck it into my scarf so it doesn't look like some detonator around my neck.  I cannot risk getting sick over Christmas and this has always helped with long travel days.  I should've known better and taken it at the more touristy places like the caverns and Monticello where we were herded in with multiple groups of people.  I'll also make sure we keep hand sanitizer ON us instead of just in the car.  I'll definitely have to order my favorite, lavender hand sanitizer from AKL Maui since it doesn't dry my hands out like the regular stuff.  I also said we'll need to make sure we buy some navel oranges and have at least one a day.  Good Lord man, after a zillion trips under my belt, you'd think I'd plan for potential cold/flu going into the season.  DERP!

I'm going to be heading into a crazy work schedule so I need to try to take care of myself.  I'm hoping to feel much better next week so I can get a jump on a lot of that.  I hope my editor is ready to bust his hump.  *ducking*

Do you usually get sick on vacation?

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I know I've said it before but...

...my Lord am I glad I own a FoodSaver!  It was glaringly apparent this trip when after researching the town about 30 minutes away from us that we were going to be in for nothing but sodium laden mediocrity if we relied on restaurants.  Or it meant I'd be cooking...all...the...time.  Just like at home. No thanks.  But the prospect of "heat and eat" was fine with me or at least heating half and making the other half.



So, I used the trip as an excuse to get some recipes made for the channel (coming in the next few weeks!) and Food Save some for the trip.  I made a batch of turkey chili split into two bags so we could have it for dinner two nights...one of them being the first night.  After a day long drive, I wouldn't have more in me than heat and eat.  So I packed up some shredded cheese and our low sodium oyster crackers pre-portioned and even made cornbread.

I made some pecan crusted chicken breast to put over TJ's pumpkin waffles and we brought our light syrup in a smaller bottle and it made for an awesome breakfast before heading out to the park.  WAY better than anything we'd get at their restaurants where you're hostage to what's available.

I also made meatloaf and I made it with lean beef and pork and tons of veggies.  I've always liked to top it myself since I like ketchup on mine and the Mr likes A1 on his so I don't make it with glaze or anything.  I brought corn from the freezer and roasted red potatoes and it was sooo good!  I just had to tend to the potatoes every now and then but no biggie.

I made my MIL some banana bread and since I knew one normal sized loaf would be too much for her alone, I split them in two of those paper loaf pans so she could have one and we would take the other.  I wrapped it tightly, froze it, FoodSaved it and moved on!  We had it with 2 eggs and some organic sausage.

Even the birthday boy's pancakes were frozen!  I made them with his favorite...mini M&M's, froze 'em, Food Saved 'em and then birthday morning, cut a slit in the bag and microwaved for 45 seconds and they were fresh and fluffy as the day I made them!  Score!

The one I was really hoping turned out well was his birthday dinner.  We sometimes go to the Cherry Hut in Beulah MI for the 2 weekends per year they serve apple pie and cinnamon ice cream along with his Thanksgiving dinner, there was pressure.  Well, I made a tutorial for the turkey and Food Saved what will be our leftovers and enough to bring to the cabin.  I premade and froze the stuffing and reheated that and even the homemade turkey gravy!  The only thing I had to make were the mashed potatoes and that was just boiling the taters and then mashing them with a little skim milk and a few pats of buttah.  I was relieved when he told me no offense but mine was way better (but we'll always love Cherry Hut!)  He also heavily hinted at cake all throughout the day but I had other plans.  Since he told me he wanted me to make him a chocolate peanut butter pie for his birthday this year I said I would.  I lied.  Instead I had our favorite pie place ship 3 mini pies...2 apple crumbs and of course his chocolate peanut butter pie he requested.  I even made sure I found cinnamon ice cream and put the little cheese wedge on the side just like Cherry Hut.  We may not have been there but it sure was close!

We brought some frozen Chicago dogs to roast over the fire from TJ's and I made caramelized onions and FoodSaved those too so all I had to do was microwave them and put them on top of our dogs when the fire made 'em sizzle and it tasted just like eating a Maxwell Street Polish.  (You Chicagoans know what I'm talkin' about!)

That thing saved our trip!  I did not even mean to make a pun like that...I have more class than that.

No I don't but still.

I have used mine so much and it's lasted 10 years but this black Friday I'm going to get a new one because I think it's going to peter out on me soon and I don't have time for that!  I got a great deal through their website using Ebates for my aunt and uncle last year.  They use that thing CONSTANTLY not just for their own meat since my uncle is an outdoorsman but they use it to make meals for my grandma and her husband so they aren't constantly eating junk and she'll even make chicken for salads and meals for my mom too.  So it's definitely getting the mileage this year!

I even use it to pre-make cookie dough about a month before holiday cookie baking time to save a little sanity where I can.  Just pull the dough to the fridge 2 days before and boom, ready to scoop!

This post isn't sponsored by FoodSaver or anything like that even though there are affiliate links if you're interested in buying one.  I linked to the one I like the best that is middle of the line price wise.   But seeing what a major time saver it was to make sure we ate not just good food but better options than we would've had at restaurants and that I now have confidence that Christmas travels will be in the bag (okay, I meant that pun...regret it), I feel a LOT better about it.  I will say that flattening the food will help because we got one of those RTIC coolers and that thing has very little room so I need to make every inch count!

So if you're ever thinking of investing, do yourself a favor.  Now that I've used it for travel purposes, I love it even more!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Surprise!

I've been keeping a secret for about 4 months.  The Mr thought we were going on one trip but I had planned another.  He's been saying for 25 years that he wanted to someday take me to Shenandoah, where his parents took him as a kid.  I don't know why but it was always something I kept putting off because it wasn't high on my list of vacation hot spots.  But...mama ain't gettin' any younger and given the way my legs are, who knows when they're going to give out completely on me so I figured no time like the present.  I didn't tell him until we were ready to leave after our breakfast on vacation departure morning.  I gave him a hint or two and he guessed and off we went!

Once we got to Shenandoah National Park, it was time to drive to Skyland and some of the turn outs showing the great views.


The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.


On our way on the trails!


Sadly, this was the most color we saw, everything was still green.


In Sperryville, we made a stop at Cooter's in the Country from Dukes of Hazzard.


We made a stop in Washington which is a beautiful small town.


Our s'more game was strong at the cabin.


We had a nice time walking the Luray greenway.


Dream lake at the Luray Caverns.


Yep, the back of the nickel looks the same in person, just less shiny.  (Monticello)


On our way out of VA, we made a side trip to Roanoke to Black Dog Salvage...the TV show.


It was a nice week away and I'm glad I was able to cross off his final vacation spot on his wish list for me to see.  He seemed to really love the surprise and I can say with all confidence that I will never plan another "surprise" vacation again!  While it was all fine and good, there was just way too much stress, pressure and wondering if he was going to be mad thinking he was going one place and going elsewhere to put myself through it again.  I'm glad I got the opportunity to do it once in my life and almost pulled it off as planned but yeah...I can cross plan a surprise vacation off of my bucket list!  HA!

Oh and if I may, I have a great audio book recommendation.  A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis Presley, Bruce Jenner, and Songs in Between is what we listened to for almost 8 solid hours and we're only just halfway through it!  It is a great listen and while I wanted to wait until our next trip to finish it, we're listening to it as I type.  It's fascinating!  (Oh and if she is half as full of kindness and integrity as she portrays (she was always my favorite Hee Haw girl), then we need more people like her.  Wow!)  But if you should get the audio book, beware while driving because her voice will soothe you to sleep!  Whoops never mind, she did it.  The Mr is out.  You're not safe anywhere.

Have you ever planned a surprise trip for someone?  How did you pull it off?

*This post contains an affiliate link.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Note to 2016 Christmas self

Repost from last year as my reminder for this holiday season.
Hey you, it's...you.

I know that you're going to get that little butterfly of excitement for the holiday season when October comes around.  You'll have had a year between holidays to forget how ugly it got last year.  It's kind of like childbirth..."a pain you forget" like they all say.

Well, I'm here to remind you that if you don't take some precautions, you're going to be doing a repeat of last year.  That included lying in your bed on the 22nd, sobbing, unable to breathe through your nose from snot, screaming "I don't want to do Christmas this year.  Cancel EVERYTHING!" and considered vacationing alone for Christmas this year.

Here are some lessons learned and things you can hopefully do to make this year more manageable because you and I both know you're not going to slow down during the holidays unless you're physically unable to do so.

1.  Freeze your doughs at the end of October or November.  Trying to do that in December is a lot to do even though it only took 2 days.  They're going in the FoodSaver so the taste won't be affected.  However, remember anything with brown butter does NOT freeze well and loses the flavor you worked so hard for so make those brown butter chocolate chip cookies within a day or two of baking.  Not only will those lose the brown butter flavor, they flatten out once frozen.  Remember you can also pre-make icings and run them through the FoodSaver so you don't have to do 4 different kinds for different things on baking day.  Consider pre-rolling some doughs if there's room then freeze.  Refer to this freezing guide now.

2.  Freeze 2-3 meals that you can have the Mr warm up.  You tapped out on dinner a few times and it resulted in some ugliness.  So to make sure everyone is happy, a few frozen meals could go a long way in not killing each other and not resulting in a fast food run or eating cookies for dinner in a moment of "eff it."

3.  Sleep on it.  There will be times in the middle of the chaos you want to tap out and make extreme decisions about people and what you have planned the next day.  80% of the time your spirit was renewed the following day.  For the other 20%, tread lightly, think ahead and if it still sticks then go with your gut.

4.  When people say and do stupid sh*t, step away from the situation.  Depending on what your stress meter is at when said stupidity rears its head, you will either grin and bear it, give fair warning they need to back off or tear the hell out of someone.  Remember when your heart rate went to about 177/120?  You took a walk and felt better.  Do that even if you have to walk out in the middle of a conversation with an offender.  Your sanity and staying out of jail are more important.

5.  Stop trying to make holiday memories with people who could care less.  It's their loss, spend precious December days with people who appreciate your efforts and time.  If they don't make merry themselves, they don't have time to make idle people merry.  (Sorry, I lapsed into A Christmas Carol ...Patrick Stewart version)  Take a hint and save your money.

6.  Pre-bag cookies for delivery people.  Every time you saw a mail or delivery person, it was too late to throw together a bag for them because they're on a schedule.  Pre-bag, press and seal them and have 'em by the front door in the little reindeer bag.  Then maybe the mail lady won't try to steal your printer next year.

8.  Don't feel guilty for taking Christmas back.  I know you are going to feel weird initially about not being with your family Christmas Day and you're probably going to get a lot of crap for it from family. (Which at that point it will be easy to say "see! This is what I'd be missing!  No thanks!")  Try to remember what the last few years have been like that day.  The hosts are visibly tired, stressed and just want the house back to themselves.  The rest of the visit is seeing who gets the "short straw" on tending to Grandma the whole time while her husband ignores her or complains to anyone who will listen about what a task he is choosing to take on.  Top that off with people who may or may not be under the influence of substances and will corner you no matter how far you try to run.  This is not how anyone should spend Christmas.  You will still see them a few days prior, you will still make merry with your mother.  Get back to the reason for the season and enjoy a break this year.  You're losing your Christmas spirit...you were not put on this Earth to be a Grinch.  There are too many people already in line for that job.

9.  Stop trying to make cinnamon rolls from scratch for Christmas morning.  Look, I know the bakeries around you suck for cinnamon rolls but what's worse is when you put that pressure on yourself to make them and fail to get the taste you wanted.  You and yeast don't mix.  Get the memo.  Buy them elsewhere and doctor if necessary.

10.  You were so frazzled from this holiday, you forgot to list a #7.  This illustrates why things need to change.

(Who just scrolled back up to see if #7 was missing?)

11.  Don't buy EVERY bag of Christmas candy out there, your stocking was ridiculous and you ate it ALL!  You threw away the Crunch bells when you realized the chocolate tasted off but yeah, you went WAY overboard and you both felt like you were going to barf for 5 days between the stockings and cookies.  Remember the Mr's sugar migraine?  Remember doing a workout and you sweat sugar cubes?

12.  Don't EVER be too lazy to change the channel on the Music Choice Sounds of the Season channel.  You actually hated Do They Know It's Christmas by the third week of December.  This especially applies when Justin Bieber or Clay Aiken comes on.  You need to exercise.  Stop what you're doing and change that crap!  It filled you with hate.

13.  Water is CRUCIAL!  For whatever reason, you stop drinking it almost altogether every year and you pay dearly for it.  Remember those gross chapped, dehydrated lips?  Remember your uh...'issues' in the lavatory?  Don't be an dork...hydrate!

14.  Take your probiotics!  Another thing you skip out on is taking these and your immune system takes a hit every time and you spend the holiday or New Years Eve sick and unable to celebrate.  BE SMART!  This and water should help keep you healthy even if your eating schedule is off.

15.  Don't forget to re-read this about mid-October next year.  Seriously, you will thank yourself.

If you want to see what you wrote to yourself last year, here's the link to the original post.

What would you tell your 2016 holiday self that you learned from this year?

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Halloween Poll

Unfortunately there's been no time to read much of anything this week so let's do a fun poll instead!  We're knee deep in the goodness of autumn and trick or treat time is just around the corner so that will be our theme.

Credit: bradsearles/Flickr  (Flippin' classic!)

Name the 5 treats you were most anxious to get in your trick or treat bag as a kid?

1. Reese Cups
2. Snickers
3. Double Bubble Gum (what was it about that package!?)
4. Candy Corn packets
5. Smarties

Name the 5 items you would throw away as a kid.
1.  Mini box of raisins
2.  Bit O' Honey's because I thought they were old people candy and now that I'm old, I love them
3.  Peanut Butter Kisses- Same candy but with peanut butter and again, now I love them!
4.  Anything with coconut like Mounds/Almond Joy
5.  Those God awful black licorice flavored hard candies

Did you use a trick or treat bag, a plastic jack o lantern or pillow case?

I think I might've used a jack o lantern as a really small kid and then graduated to the plastic bags you bought at the store.  Never did a pillow case.

Describe what trick or treating was like when you were a kid:

When I was a kid, there was always the possibility that if it was cold enough, it could flurry so the snowsuit or winter coat could go over your costume which stunk.  We always got a pumpkin flashlight at Kmart or similar stores so I could light my way and I was let loose into the apartment complex(s) to collect my loot.  We might stop by Grandma's house too to show off my costume.  With the advent of the whole "razors/needles in the candy" crap back in the 80's, we just kind of held up the wrapper to the light or bit into half the candy gingerly if we bothered at all.  Sometimes you didn't care and just played candy roulette and hoped you didn't become an urban legend.  Then I took out what I didn't want and my mom would take it and I'm sure a few rogue pieces of my favorites I had too much of like every mom!

What candy do you give out now as an adult?  (And do you buy candy you like so if there's any left, you'll have some or do you purposely buy candy you DON'T like so you won't be tempted to eat it?)

We've tried to give out full sized candy bars like Snickers or Milky Ways (not that they're very full sized anymore yet still have the same calories...how is this possible!?) or a bag of something we like but no kids ever come here so we save a few for a high cal day or send them to the Mr's work. We have bought crappy candy before to not tempt us but then we just want to eat a few pieces anyway if they're fun sized so that doesn't really work for us.  :-\

What are the biggest differences you see from Halloween when you were a kid to now especially if you have little goblins?

Well, we didn't think they DID trick or treat anymore despite the news always showing the times for it.  We literally have an entire neighborhood waiting to give out treats and I know at least 5 kids that live here so they could make out like bandits but no one in over 15 years!  I hear they do "trunk or treat???"  That just sounds sad.

Your turn!  Can't wait to see your responses to these questions!

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Product Review: Nailtiques Formula 2 Nail Strengthening Polish

Raise your hand if you were/are a nail biter.  It's been a habit since I was a kid and sometimes if I was super nervous, I could bite them without even knowing I was doing it.  I did the acrylic thing in high school and while it looks nice until they grow out and need a balance, it weakens your nails beyond belief.  Ever since I stopped, my nails were never the same...very thin, weak and brittle.  I used a zillion top coats claiming to strengthen but none of them ever did.  In March, I noticed my nails were in particularly rough shape.  Thin, brittle, not able to grow them out at all and the nail bed stripes were red and angry looking.  I've had ridges and "stripes" for about 7 years, way before my time.  (No underlying health conditions or anything, already checked.)  When I was able to grow my nails out, the stripes were a major weak point and I could have them longer for about a week or two and then they would break or split.

There's this vlogger I sometimes check out and one time someone asked her how long she'd had acrylics and she noted that her nails weren't acrylic, they were real.  I was in utter shock because they were PERFECT.  Long, strong, thick...basically everything mine weren't.  Because of how embarrassing they'd gotten, I thought I'd give the product she recommended a try.


Nailtiques Formula 2 Protein is made for "soft, peeling, bitten, weak or thin nails."  Um...*raising hand.*  Now I choke having to pay like almost $10 for a top coat but this stuff was $17 at the time but I was desperate.  (I know, it's not that much, I'm just cheap.)  I bought it on a road trip when I saw it at Target because we were two months out from our Hawaii trip and I wanted decent looking nails or at least the start of them by the time we got there.  So this is what I was working with on day one.


At this point, this was considered "long" for me.  Any sign of white was good but as you can see especially on the right just how red the nail beds were.  When I showered, my nails would go completely clear and be transparent for like an hour or two.  This was going to be my last ditch effort to see if nails were ever going to be a possibility for me.  I painted my nails in the parking lot because I was serious, yo!  You have to make the commitment that if you want the product to work you must paint your nails DAILY.  I would paint them and every 3-4 days remove it if it was looking dull to start with a fresh coat.

These are the results after a week.


You can see the whites are whiter and the red seems to have calmed down a bit.  I know your nails growing out is a very slow process but I was encouraged with what I saw so I kept it up.

Another week passed and these were my results.


You can see major growth between week one and two.  My pinkies are slow growers and always the ones most likely to split but my pointer fingers apparently grow like champs.  Keep it up!

Here's one week later...


Okay, not only am I seeing amazing length in a short period of time but as you can see by the arrow on the right, the new nail bed is already growing in and it's significantly lighter which was one of my hopes because it doesn't advertise my zebra stripes on my nails.

I was so happy with the progress, I vowed to keep it up and that meant including every day on vacation for a month.  By the time we were in Hawaii, my nails were so strong that any time I spent in the shower or pool didn't phase them a bit.  I'm talking by day seven I'm usually able to peel my nails off in the pool they get so soft and weak.  Nope.  They were strong, white and not going anywhere!  I even jammed them into something three or four times, stubbing it like a mofo and it was painful but not a chip or split in sight.  There was a time where I chipped the side of one nail and usually that would've been the end of it but it actually stayed in tact and I just kept it that way since it wasn't too noticeable and within two weeks, you couldn't even see it anymore because it grew so fast!

When I got to the point where my nail beds grew out completely, I wasn't quite as diligent about it and would paint them every other day and the strength has stayed consistent.  Obviously if I want them even stronger, I'd need to do it daily.  I'm just over 6 months in and my friend (who has acrylics) commented on how beautiful my nails looked and she doesn't know I was doing anything to them.  So if others are noticing, then yeah...totally keeping it up but more so for myself because I never in a million years thought my nails could look like this all the time...


The left pinky got a split but I think that one needs daily painting for sure because it's always been my problem child.  I also think if I were better about doing it daily the nail beds would be a consistent color instead of seeing new growth lines.  But given what they looked like before, it's negligible in the scheme of things so I'm not going to complain!

Nailtiques Formula 2 Protein has been an utter God send for me and no I wasn't sent the product to try or anything like that.  I bought it with my own money and am reporting back what it did for me because I know what it's like to have embarrassing nails and wanting to do something about it.

As long as you're diligent about applying it daily especially in the initial grow out phase, you will see results.  I frequently have to cut them back.  (The final pic is a recent cutback because they were almost twice that length (!) and getting in the way of being able to type.)  I still smile like a dork when I get out of the shower and see they're totally white and not clear at all even if I'm giving them a few hours break going totally bare.  About every other week, I will remove the polish and lightly buff out any deep ridges growing in and then paint on a mix of almond oil and tea tree oil to keep them moisturized and fungus/bacteria free.  (I keep that mix on for about an hour and then rub it into the nails if it hasn't absorbed in yet then paint on my new coat of Nailtiques.)

I am utterly thrilled with the results and will use this forever because no way in heck do I want to go back to what I had!  It's just a matter of keeping it on the side table and in front of my face to remind me to do it.  This stuff is an 11 for sure and I hope it can help others with nails in as poor shape as mine used to be!

Do you have strong nails or weak, brittle ones like mine were?

*This post contains affiliate links for amazing nail wizardry.  

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Before Thanksgiving Picnic Sammie


About this time last year, we were meeting a friend for some paddling and a picnic.  I knew we'd work up some pretty hefty appetites given the route we were following and since it was a road trip, I wanted there to be enough left over in case we got hungry on the way home.  I volunteered to make the picnic since, well, it's what I do.  But also because despite being just over a month out from Thanksgiving, I always get a MAD hankering for that fare come September or October.  That's where this sandwich was born.  Here's what you'll need for this but know it's totally customizable to your tastes!

Turkey breast (I used TJ's Organic)
Poultry seasoning and fresh herbs if ya got 'em
Thick Cut Bacon (I used peppered from the local butcher)
Brown sugar
Foccacia Bread (or preferred bread of your choice but this is damn good!)
Trader Joe's Fig Butter
1/3 Fat Cream Cheese
Preferred cream cheese mix in's (I used roasted red peppers, cut scallions and a few dashes of hot sauce)
Arugula lettuce (or preferred lettuce but don't go iceberg because that would just be insulting)
Cheese of your choice (I used Chipotle Gouda)

Season your turkey breasts front and back with poultry seasoning and a little black pepper.  Sear on each side without cooking through.  You're just looking for the sear to seal in the juices.



Throw the breasts into a crock pot with a little water on the bottom and some fresh herbs on top and let them cook until the juices run clear.  (This way you can do other things and not have to worry about drying out the meat)


Now on to the bacon.  This is "billionaire's bacon" which is candied bacon with some ground black pepper and cayenne pepper which gives it a little kick.  You can totally leave the spice off.  Just crumble a wee little bit of brown sugar on top of the bacon which is on a rack so it doesn't sit in grease.  Bake it in the oven for about 7-10 minutes at 400 degrees.  You'll have to watch it closely as it can go from candied to bacon jerky quick and not the good kind.


When your turkey is done, stare at it because it secretly likes to be adored.


Let it rest for 5-10 minutes to keep the juices in tact.  Then slice it to your desired thickness.  I cut one slightly thicker since I was using one breast to be Food Saved (an actual verb) and the other for our sammies.


Grab that fluffy foccacia bread, cut it into 4-5 sub width sections then cut those sections in half to get dressed for the show.


First I bring the cream cheese spread to room temperature.   I used roasted red peppers, scallions/chives and a dash of hot sauce.


Spread some on the side that will act as your bottom slice.  (I don't slather too much on, just enough to give flavor.)


Now it's time to break out the fig butter.  If you'd ever told me I'd like this, I'd have said you were nuts but those of you who have been following for a while know it's good for other yummy treats as well!


Spread a decent amount of the fig butter on the other side.


Now it's time to dress this baby for the picnic!  Add turkey slices, 2 slices of bacon and your cheese.

I like to use arugula because it has a subtle peppery bite.


Top it off, wrap it in foil or wax paper and pack in a cooler with a few tea towels wrapped around them to keep them cool but not frozen if you're road tripping.


I'll be honest, I wasn't sure if my non foodie friend would dig the fig butter because she's super picky but halfway through she was like "what's on here that's so good and sweet?"  Score!   She ate half after our paddling adventure and the other half on her way home since dinner was on the road.

Obviously you could use a cranberry jam or something more traditional but this fig butter is so great and the perfect compliment!

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