“Tropical Storm Conditions Possible”

tropicalwarning

That’s not something you see every day. At least, not in the desert.

Perfect timing, considering I’ll be at a class all week and therefore this blog will be in (mostly) radio silence. I’ll try to keep up with ya’ll, but will have fairly limited internet for the duration. So stay safe!

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The Tale of the Gray Pachyderm Fabric

september-17

I found this crib sheet fabric at Goodwill yesterday, while perusing their random section for potential scrap fabric. Our plan is to hand make most, if not all, holiday presents this year because money. Also because I have strong feelings about unconscious consumerism.

I originally was delighted because pachyderms and gray fabric. It would be perfect for so many things! Then I turned it around and half pulled it out of its pouch, wondering if it was a pair of pillowcases or a sheet or what, and saw it was a crib sheet. I almost put it back, because I knew right away I wouldn’t be able to cut it up. I knew if I actually bought it, I would bring it home and tuck it away and break the not-so-unspoken rule between me and my wife that we are not allowed to buy baby things until an actual, certified, verified (& stamped!) baby is on the way.

I took it home anyway, ostensibly to cut it up, but really to tuck it away. I have plans to turn the cover into some small, pachyderm-themed items, but the sheet itself… well, I showed it to Lady and I don’t think she’s about to let me cut it up, either. So at least we’re in agreement.

I feel a little silly. I wasn’t going to do this. I was going to be the strong one and be very good about not buying anything prematurely. But it doesn’t feel like jinxing it, at least.

But that’s it. No more until everything is verified & stamped & confirmed. I mean it this time. Really.

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Yearning for Autumn

Summer might be the season in which I feel the most at home, but I love autumn.

Which can be a problem, considering we currently live in the desert. Not much autumn happening here. Not much in the way of bright, leafy colors. And it’s usually in the 80’s well through November.

But this morning it was just shy of 70 and the bike ride to work was cool and quiet and the sun is coming up just a little bit later, so that it’s only just hitting the tree line. The light is getting warmer, slower, and something smelled like apples. Autumn doesn’t officially start for another week and a half, but I’m impatient. I can smell it on the air and I want it now.

I want the evening bonfires, I want the hot spiced cider, I want the bourbon-spiked hard cider, I want the open windows, I want the pumpkin patches, I want the crisp morning scent, I want to wear BPAL’s Samhain every single day, I want to make apple pie, I want to fold pumpkin puree into everything, I want baked acorn squash, I want brussel sprouts and cranberries, I want brisk – even chilly – sunsets, I want that warm autumn light everywhere.

In the meantime, I’m going to start getting out and organizing the autumn decorations and haunting pinterest, drooling over everything autumn.

What’s your favorite part about autumn?

 

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The Great Chocolate Experiment: Week One

From the last week of August through Saturday, I charted my general mood, irritability level, and how heavy my heart felt two to three times a day. This tracking tuned me into even minute changes in my mood and gave me a broad picture of what a typical two weeks looks like for me. A baseline, with which to compare future results.

On a scale of 0-10, my irritability was usually around 0-1, but occasionally jumped up to 3, usually at 8am when all of my coworkers arrive and the office suddenly becomes very noisy. I noted that, while I was annoyed, I did not actively want to rip out anyone’s spleen and/or spine. My mood was somewhere between “meh” and “smiley face.” I had one frowny face, and that was – again – at 8am. And on a scale of 0-10 for heaviness in my heart,  I stayed consistently 0.

On Saturday, I started the next phase of the Great Chocolate Experiment: actually introducing chocolate. I had two pieces of Trader Joe’s 73% organic – which is the only TJ’s chocolate without soy, FYI – around 3pm and they were delicious. Then I promptly stopped eating chocolate.

Although it should have been too soon to really be related, that evening was the first time I marked anything other than 0 for the heaviness column in my chart. I was struck by an unshakeable and deep ennui, although that could have been the result of not quite getting everything accomplished on Saturday that I had wanted to.

Then Sunday, while we were biking back from our grocery shopping, I was struck by a fit of irritated rage. The wind was in my face and the skirt I was wearing was a terrible choice for biking and there were people and bikes and I. just. couldn’t. So I finally stopped biking, hopped off, and walked the rest of the way home, all the while muttering curses not-quite under my breath. I teared up, but I didn’t cry. I did slam my hand against the outside wall, which felt good. After I had calmed down, I remembered my chart and marked a 10 under irritability for that morning.

Now, a full two days after eating the chocolate, my numbers are back to normal. I haven’t had any further spikes and I feel like my usual self. I can, of course, attribute both of those emotional incidents to the extenuating circumstances – the ennui from feeling unproductive, the rage from the sheer annoyance of struggling with my skirt and maybe a bit of hunger. But that doesn’t mean they were reasonable or normal (for me, at least) reactions to said circumstances.

That said, there are still too many variables to definitively say one way or another. I did just start that new diet last week. Maybe that was catching up? Who knows! Well, I’ll know. Because I’m going to keep tracking my mood. And I’m going to do this again next weekend, except I’ll have chocolate on Saturday and Sunday.

And, of course, I’ll let you know how that goes. I’ll leave you with an interesting preliminary study on chocolate consumption correlating with depression.

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Transitioning to Something like the Wahl’s Protocol +

Before going paleo, I was a vegetarian for 10 years. Although I originally forewent meat out of a vague and not exactly correct understanding of health, my reasoning soon became one of ethics. There’s no way around it: the majority of the animals which are raised for their products – be it meat or milk or wool or what have you – are not treated well in the US. CAFO’s are awful, inhumane, inanimal, places, that make animal products artificially cheap and have bolstered consumption – and therefore demand – not only here, but abroad.

So when I switched to paleo, I was more concerned about where my meat had come from than the fact that I was eating it. I tried to learn and source our meat appropriately, and over the last few years we have gotten better and better about it. But typical paleo is rather meat-heavy, especially when aiming lower carb and eschewing the usual bulking foods like rice and potatoes. And grass-fed, pastured, local meat is, frankly, a shit ton more expensive than CAFO meat, because it reflects the true cost. So, sometimes we would still buy the cheaper meat.

But I, personally, have been wanting to change that for some time. It’s very important to me that none of our money goes towards CAFO operations. It’s one thing that I feel I need to stand up for, not just for the sake of the animals, but for the sake of the environment, and for the sake of people. It’s cheap meat, yes, but at what cost? There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

So when I read Petra8Paleo’s post about nutritional ethics, it really got to me. She wrote that post months and months ago and I’ve been thinking about it all this time. She turned to the Wahl’s Protocol + not just for her own health, but to save money and eat less. I’d been wanting to try it, but had been waiting for a break in TTC to avoid shocking my body too much. Well, with the additional need to lose weight, now is the time.

I started over a week ago and so far it’s going great. I’m not doing the strict WP+, because that is largely for people recovering from severe autoimmune issues and I already know what my food sensitivities are. I’m doing a modified WP+, which looks like a strict form of paleo with a large emphasis on vegetables and fat and – key to all the above – way less protein. Before last week, I typically ate between 10 oz and 16 oz of protein a day. For the WP+, it’s recommended that women get between 6-8 oz. Taking into account that one of my goals is to, if not actively gain muscle, then to maintain muscle while trying to lose weight, I’m doing 8 oz of protein, with an occasional extra ounce depending on how I feel. Either way, easily only 2/3rds to a 1/2 of what my norm.

Integral also to the WP+ is a limit of two meals, a 12-16 hour fast (including sleep, unless you hate yourself), and a dearth of snacking. So a typical day – like today – looks like this:

4:30am wake up

5am coffee + 1-2tbsp grassfed butter

9am breakfast of: lots and lots of greens, purple cabbage, 4 oz meatballs, and a chunk of coconut fudge

10am chicken broth with gelatin

2pm lunch of: two-three cups of lettuce and spinach, 4 oz canned salmon with dijon, a few olives, roasted beets, and a sprinkling of feta and another chunk of coconut fudge OR half an avocado

6pm evening snack of: a few carrots, a few slices of cucumber with 1 oz of ham and/or a few smears of chicken pate

 

Technically, the evening snack isn’t part of the WP+, but I have had a hard time getting to sleep and staying asleep if I don’t include it. I think my activity level is too high right now to shove all the food I need into just two meals. This part I am continuing to tweak, as well as the meal times – ideally, I would have my second meal around 3, almost 4pm, which would end up negating the necessity for the evening snack. Unfortunately, I simply get up way too early to have my second meal be dinner.

Aside from that, this has gone well. I’m down 5lbs – although that’s probably water weight – since the last weekend of August. I feel better, generally, although I am often exhausted by the evening. The butter coffee has made the morning fast that much more tolerable. I am much more comfortable with being and feeling hungry, and less cantankerous when I am. Most importantly, aside from about 30min around breakfast time, I don’t feel like I’m starving. My workouts haven’t suffered at all and biking to work isn’t any more difficult. Actually, I even PR’ed a squat workout last week – 160# x 3! Yus!

This past Sunday, our grocery shopping and cooking day, was what really sold this diet for me, though. Our grocery bill was significantly lower than usual and we were able to source all of our meat for the week locally (well, ignoring the canned salmon – not much one can do about fish in the desert). Plus, we didn’t spend the usual entire afternoon chopping and cooking and cooking some more. It took maybe an hour, maybe an hour and a half, to prepare all the food we would need to the coming week. Granted, this is partially because we still had leftovers from the previous week, having way overestimated how much we’d be eating. But still!

Unfortunately, I also turned yesterday into a cheat day (I had a potato! so good), which means that slipping straight back into a 2 meal day is a wee bit more difficult than usual. Oops.

Although I’m mostly sold on this style of diet, I’m going to keep my findings preliminary for now. I aim to stick with it at least until October, at which point I will likely continue, but with a wee bit freer reign. Because you have to transition and stay in ketosis, I foresee it being a problem if I need to be lax, since it’s therefore not as easy to jump in and out of as, say, traditional paleo. But I’ll build that bridge when I get there. Right now, I certainly like it so far.

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And then there were ten…

speckofawesome:

We lost another chicken. I’m reblogging my wife’s post because she says it more eloquently than I can right now. RIP, Crosby.

Originally posted on From PhD to Farm:

My last post was about losing a chicken. This one is going to be much the same, I think.

This morning, I found a text from my chicken co-caretaker, saying that she found a dead chicken in a nest box the day before. This was sudden — I thought I’d been keeping a pretty good eye on them. I thought I’d see some indication before it happened again. I thought that we were in the clear, now that the days aren’t quite so hot, and we’ve made some revisions to keep the chickens cooler.

I guess things can still happen.

The worst part of it is that today, when I went to visit them, I had the sudden thought of “What if it’s Crosby?” which was swiftly followed by, “Oh God, it’s Crosby.” Sure enough, she was the missing hen. Crosby is gone. She’s not hiding (I looked everywhere). She’s…

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A Last Note on TTC (for the time being)

Even though I had officially closed the door on this cycle a few weeks ago, hid the OPK’s in the back of the bathroom cabinet, and stopped paying attention to every little twinge, I was still – occasionally – temping. I really like the head’s up temping gives me as to when to expect the unpleasant bleeding. Plus, my theory was that this had turned into an anovulatory cycle and I wanted to confirm that.

I’m glad I kept temping, because it finally went up. I’d begun to worry like nobody’s business, googling reasons why I might not have ovulated, etc, and of course self-diagnosing with everything under the sun. It got so bad that Lady eventually asked me if I wanted to see a doctor to just verify everything was okay. That helped me realize I was being crazy, because seriously, what would a doctor do? Besides, I have documented here just how freaking stressed out I was early to mid-August.

But nope, thankfully my temp finally jumped and a whole lot of tension I hadn’t realized I was still holding just – vanished. I can count the days now until the end of this cycle and then I can actually let it all go until January. Hopefully.

In the meantime I can try really hard not to think about babies and TTC and not to wish for the four months to just fly by. I have a book to query and another to rewrite and those are just as Important. I have an autumn to enjoy and friends to see and Christmas to plan for (fuuuuck) and a life to live. So even though I’m sure my mind will still be filled with babies, this will be the last TTC post until January. Thank god?

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