Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I have a new blog!

I have not been doing well on a low-carb diet for quite some while now. I want to get back to it, but my head is just not there. And it’s always been my “head” at the source of my weight issues. I hope I can get back on it and stay on it, but until I do, I sort of feel funny posting at “lowcarbpatty.” Does that make sense?

Anyway, my new blog is called The Small Stuff and I hope you will go check it out. It’s just about my life and whatever I feel like writing about, pretty much. I'll post on this one occasionally as well, but will feel better about it when I can honestly say I'm "doing" low carb.

Take care!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rosacea - what works for me

I have rosacea, which I’d say is about 90% controlled at most times. However, about once or twice a year, I used to get horrible flare-ups, which are embarrassing at best and quite painful at worst. In general, I have very dry, very sensitive skin.

Having tried many OTC and prescription treatments with varying degrees of success but no overwhelming front runner, almost a year ago I found myself in the midst of yet another awful flare. It was very painful and very embarrassing. If you suffer from this problem, I know you understand what I mean.

In my medicine cabinet at the time, I had Metrogel Cream (prescription), a sulfur-based cream (prescription), Oracea (prescription antibiotic), and other various OTC creams, soaps, salves, etc. However, at the worst of the flare – none of these products helped; in fact, it was downright painful to put anything at all on my face. I’d had some success from using organic coconut oil straight from the jar, but for some reason, it seemed to have lost its effectiveness for me.

In desperation, I decided to try a product I’d seen someone comment about on a rosacea forum I occasionally visited. It’s made by PEL Naturals -- Redness & Blemish Control. I also either bought or got free a sample size of their Super-Rich Moisturizer. Wow! From the first time I put on the moisturizer, my skin felt so much better – soothed, softer, not inflamed… After my skin was calmed down, I was able to start using the Redness & Blemish Control, and in only a few days, these products made a huge difference in my skin. The stuff is made with emu oil, along with a bunch of other natural oils and extracts. It has no artificial ingredients at all. I’ve continued using it since that time and continue to be very pleased with the results.

Now, I’m certainly not saying these products will work the same for everyone who tries them, but I have been so happy with my results, I thought I would make this post for anyone else who wanted to give them a try.

Like I said at the beginning of my post, my rosacea now stays pretty much under control. I have some bumps under the skin that don’t ever come to the surface but basically don’t ever go away. It’s more of something I can feel with my fingers, rather than something I see in the mirror. If I notice any redness coming up, I try to up my use of the products from once a day to twice, and it stops the redness from spreading or becoming noticeable.

Here’s a website if you’re interested.

I don’t work for PEL, nor do I receive any sort of commission from them – like I said, I just thought I’d share my two cents worth in hopes that it might help someone else.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Unpacking and settling in

I’d never make it as a mover …

So, we’re in the new house and out of the old house. We even closed on the old house yesterday (yay!), so we’re done with that.

There are still quite a few boxes, but a lot more that are empty than full now. My kitchen is fully functional and stocked, and I have been enjoying cooking and puttering around there. I’ve been learning to cook with electric on a glass cooktop. I’d been spoiled with gas for the last 12 years in my house. We still have no pictures on the wall and no decorations out to speak of – haven’t even opened most of those boxes yet.

We have a screened-in porch, which we’re very excited about and we just bought a patio set for that room, so we can enjoy evenings outside but away from the mosquitoes.

We have the guest room and the study about 75% and 90% done, respectively. We haven’t made much progress in our bedroom, though. Still got a ways to go!

My muscles have gotten a good, hard workout – much more than I typically get, and after several days where I could barely walk in the morning, it’s a lot better. I’ve taken Chance for several walks around our new neighborhood – which he loves, and which is good for me, too.

My goal is to finish the house and then keep up with a good level of physical activity. Actually, just having a house this size will up my activity – what with cleaning and such. Anyway, we’re enjoying our new digs, and I’ll post more soon.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Our new house ...

We did our final walk-through yesterday and closed on the house today ... yay! I was surprised and so thrilled to see that the previous owners actually planted flowers for us -- is that a generous gesture, or what? They planted beautiful petunias in the front beds. Also, the azalea bushes are starting to bloom, and a rose bush on one end of the house is in full bloom. I am just totally jazzed -- the house looks so nice.

Here's a picture:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cleaning the refrigerator ... ugh!

So I’ve been busy today cleaning the fridge. And I mean taking the drawers out, cleaning inside the little grooves and rubber gasket thingies all around it, scrubbing down the shelves and door compartments, etc. Deep cleaning. And you know? For someone who felt reasonably good about her housekeeping abilities (not anywhere near perfect, mind you, but not living in a pigsty either) – this is a shock. My refrigerator was disgusting! “Eeeeeuuuwwww” is the first word that comes to mind. It has taken repeated, and I mean repeated, spraying and scrubbing to get it clean. Sheesh……..how long has it been since I deep cleaned the fridge? I mean, besides just swiping it down? Hmmmmmmmmm….. Well, Bush was in the White House, although I couldn’t swear it was his second term. Sad, isn't it? …so sad.

Packing continues. Good Lord, where did all this stuff come from and how did we have it all inside this small house?

My eating has been clean this week. Low carb, plenty of protein and the majority of my carbs coming from low-starch veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, greens, cabbage, green beans, etc. We’ve got a busy, busy ten days coming up, and I hope I can keep this kind of eating throughout the moving and settling-in process.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I've been busy!

It’s been a nice evening. I made roasted chicken leg/thigh quarters and turnip greens…very tasty and low carb. I’m back on the wagon, so to speak, and trying to do better with my eating. Things are in a state of disarray and upheaval here at home, with packing boxes and crates up to our eyeballs. I hate the mess and feeling of chaos, but I know it’s an inescapable part of the moving process.

I’ve been calling all the people and companies who need to have our new address: utility company, internet provider, homeowners insurance, satellite company, newspaper, bank, and on and on… It’s a long list!

We’re getting really, really excited. Two weeks from tomorrow we will spend the first night in our new house. Remember Jeannie (“I Dream of Jeannie”)? Wish I could blink and we would be all moved in and settled!

Here's a shot of my azaleas blooming.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What I've been reading lately ...

If you’ve been a follower of my blog for very long, you know I’m a big reader. Well, I’ve been reading some really good books lately and thought I’d share them.

I discovered Sandra Dallas several months ago and have enjoyed her books so much. The one I read most recently is called The Diary of Mattie Spenser and it is a fictional diary that a pioneer woman in the 1860’s writes, telling about her life – the hardships and joys – in the Colorado Territory. From the first page, I was completely enthralled by Mattie; the story seems so real and true to what life must have been like in those days. I have felt this way about every Sandra Dallas book I’ve read, and I look forward to reading more.

I just finished a really fun book by Marjorie Ford, The Diary of an American Au Pair, which is sort of The Nanny Diaries goes to Scotland. It was funny and very escapist – chick lit at its best. Another “diary,” but a completely different kind.

I’m in the middle of A Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall. This is the story behind that youtube video that was going around a couple years ago about the guys who raised a lion cub in London, then set it free in Africa, and their reunion with the lion in Africa a year later. I loved the video when it arrived in my email inbox. And I just happened to catch a documentary on Animal Planet a couple weeks ago that gave a lot more background and information about Christian and the two guys who raised him and loved him enough to set him free. Anyway, this book makes me feel good. I love animal stories and I love when people do the right thing. So it’s a win-win.

I also have to admit, I’ve been on the Janet Evanovich website, and she has the first chapter or so of her latest Stephanie Plum book, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen. I love, love, love the Stephanie Plum books and cannot wait for this one to come out in June. I also love how she puts “teasers” on her website, which totally suck me in and make me want the book even more.

I’ve read the first book in the Twilight series and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. So, I’ve ordered the second one off half.com and will start down that road.

I have the latest in the Diane Mott Davidson series about a caterer (Goldy Schultz) who cooks up a storm and also solves murders in her spare time. It’s called Fatally Flaky. I love those books and actually made a couple of the recipes in some of the early ones.

Guess that’s it for now. Oh, and Steve says half the moving truck will be filled with boxes of books. (He’s as big of a reader as I am.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A quiet Sunday evening

I’m sitting here on a quiet Sunday evening in my big recliner with my laptop, window open just a little, enjoying a cool breeze. It rained earlier and will rain again tonight, but it’s not at the moment. Boxes and crates are piled up next to the chair and in front of the rolltop desk that sits in our living room. We’ve packed about a dozen large boxes/crates this weekend and have a lot more to go.

Boots, my sweet and skittish kitty, is not at all happy about the addition of all these boxes and all the activity surrounding them. He knows something is up and hates change. In fact, change scares him to death. (I sort of know how he must feel.) I probably won’t be able to find Boots for about a week after we get him moved into the new house.

Chance, on the other hand, has been a little hyper (more than usual), which is his typical reaction to any sort of hoopla. He loves any and all activity and will love our new house. He will love his new yard and sniffing all the new smells out there and will love putting his scent on top of all those smells. It's a dog thing.

Here are shots of both of them tonight. Boots is sitting on his kitty perch with his nose stuck under the window sill. Chance’s is a little blurry, but it’s hard to pin down a moving target…

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

Have a happy and blessed Easter, and to my Jewish friends, a joyous Passover.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's been a long time ...

Sorry, Vikki (and everyone else); I know I’ve been AWOL for a long time.

Things have been busy in my little corner of the world. My biggest news is: we bought a new house! We close April 30th and will move the first week of May. It’s in a really great neighborhood and we’ll have a lot more room and a lot of nice extras. It’s got a beautiful Bradford Pear tree in the front yard and a huge oak tree on the side. Then there’s another flowering tree in the far corner of the back yard; I’m not sure, but I think it’s a cherry tree. How cool is that? Speaking of trees, I will miss my big pecan tree in our back yard; it has kept me supplied with pecans for all the years I’ve been here.

I spent today packing. It’s amazing how much we have accumulated in 12 years of living in this small house … and that with us remaining very conscious of our space limitations. I hate a cluttered house, so it’s been an ongoing effort to minimize. But even with that, we have a lot of stuff.

My health issues are better. I’m on two different medicines for fibromyalgia, and they have made a big difference. I’ve also gotten several massages, which help my neck and shoulders, and feel so good and so … indulgent. I love getting them.

I am so far off-track right now in my eating. I have nothing to say for myself... I hope to get back on track soon. But probably not until after the move.

Here's a picture of the new place.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Where I am right now...

First, let me say thank you to all the people who expressed condolences in my mother’s passing. I appreciate them so much, and it has helped to know there are people who have held me in their thoughts and prayers.

It’s been a really dark and difficult time. The stress and grief seem to have sent my pain levels higher than I thought they could go. I have not been functioning very well at all – missing work, not taking calls, not really motivated to do much of anything and not hopeful that things would change. At the same time, I’ve been trying different measures to manage the pain – physical therapy, acupuncture, herbs and vitamins, along with continuing the fibromyalgia, anti-inflammatory, and pain meds.

Last week, my doctor put me on Cymbalta. It’s an anti-depressant that helps with pain, and it’s recently been approved for fibromyalgia. My pain is definitely at a lower level than it was a week ago, and for that I am very grateful. It’s amazing how much difference a little pain relief makes. Emotionally, I mean.

For the most part, I’m still not leaving the house except to go to work, and I’m still avoiding taking calls and dealing with people. But it’s okay. It’s what I need to do right now. I’m feeling a lot of anger and sadness all mixed together, and over a number of different situations in our lives right now. I hope that will change soon, but it’s where I am right now…

Friday, February 6, 2009

Goodbye, Mom ...

My mother passed away on Sunday, February 1, 2009 at 3:20 a.m. following a long and hard battle with dementia. She was well loved and loved well, and she will be greatly missed.

I’m not functioning terribly well yet, but I wanted to make this post, just to let my readers know. I’ll post more soon. It’s terribly, terribly hard – as anyone who has lost a mother would know. I’ve spent the last few years mourning the “loss” of my mother (the true essence of her), and so I guess (irrationally) I thought that her actual death would not be so very painful. After all, it was not unexpected. And by the end, we were praying that she would just not suffer anymore. But … even with all that … this is a pain that I’ve never experienced.

If you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, you know that within the past two years I’ve lost both my sister (in a house fire) and my brother (cancer). And now my mom. I think I’m actually feeling the culmination of all three losses at once.

Anyway, it’s just incredibly hard and I’m not in a good place right now. I believe it will get easier as time goes on – that’s what friends are telling me, anyway.

I’ll post more when I can.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dementia and not eating

As many of you know, my 86-year old mom has advanced dementia and lives in a nursing home. Her condition has steadily worsened over the past few years, and the news these days is not good.

My mother stopped eating a couple weeks ago. She has now stopped drinking water or any other liquids. She is refusing her meds as well. The doctor tells us that not eating and drinking is a sign of late stages dementia. He said the brain essentially “forgets” to tell the stomach it’s hungry or thirsty.

The doctor says it’s only a matter of time for Mom at this point, probably not more than a month. We are looking into hospice treatment for her, so that her pain will be as minimal as possible.

Almost 20 years ago, my mother signed a living will giving specific instructions on how she wanted to be treated (or not treated) in just this type of situation. I witnessed that document and remember thinking that I hoped we would never have to face anything listed on that piece of paper.

Today, I am so grateful to my mother for having the foresight and love for her family to set out exactly what she wanted and did not want, in terms of life-saving measures. Now, we don’t have to guess what her wishes are – her true wishes, made with clear-headed thinking and clarity, almost 20 years ago. It makes the decisions we have to make – as hard as they are - much easier.

It’s been a hard time for me, and I know it’s going to get harder before it gets any easier. I would appreciate your prayers for my mom and my family as we walk through this hard place. And, if I’m out of commission and out of touch for awhile, I hope you’ll understand.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The best peanut butter!

So... from time to time I share product information, when I stumble upon something really good. This is one of those times.

I have sort of unofficially been on a "nut butter search" for a creamy, satisfying, yet low carb nut butter. I found one called "Sun Butter" that was made from sunflower seeds, but my local Kroger stopped carrying it, so once again, I was on the hunt. I didn't care for the flavor of most of the "natural" peanut butters I tried -- they tasted sort of globby in my mouth (is globby a word? probably not, but you know what I mean...) Anyway, as a girl raised on Skippy and Peter Pan, they just fell short in both texture and flavor.

But, enter stage left Smuckers Natural Creamy Peanut Butter. Smuckers Natural is the best peanut butter I've ever had. I kid you not. Best of all, the ingredients are: peanuts and salt. That's it. Can't get much more "natural" than that. The flavor reminds me of the peanut butters I grew up with.

And, I guess that's the heart and soul of why we like most foods that we like. Usually, they remind us of something we loved as a child, or take us back (even subconsciously) to a time or a place when we were happy and content. At least, that's my two-cent take on it.

Anyway, if you're looking for a peanut butter that's tasty and has no sugar or added ingredients, give Smuckers Natural a try. Hopefully, you'll love it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vikki Ann's Low Carb Chocolate Microwave Torte

Rosie – ask and you shall receive, girl! Here’s the yummy chocolate torte recipe my friend Vikki Ann at the Low Carb Forum at About.com created. She is sort of the “Sandra Lee” of that forum, imho … all about the quick and easy.

Best of all, this recipe fits into my new rules of "no flour and no sugar." I still haven't made it since I've been on the new eating plan, but I plan on doing so soon. This was a nice treat I enjoyed many times while on my low carb plan.

Anyway, Vikki Ann gave me permission to print it here. She says she keeps making tweaks and changes to this to vary the flavors, but to me, this is just perfect. Here is the original location of her recipe and the whole thread that follows.

Vikki Ann’s Chocolate Microwave Torte

2 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup
¼ cup flaxseed meal
1 tsp. baking powder
1-2 tsp. water

1-2 tsp. sugar-free peanut butter (my favorite is Smuckers Natural)
2-4 Tbsp. Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup
Whipped cream, to taste

In a microwave-safe small bowl or tall cup, melt butter/oil. Add the remainder of ingredients, mixing well. You want a batter-like consistency, so if it sits for more than a minute or so, you’ll have to add more water. Put plastic wrap over the top and poke a hole in it; microwave on high for 1 minute, 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, mix the peanut butter and chocolate syrup. Spread this over the cake when it’s “fresh out of the oven” and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

This recipe is a real winner. So fast and so easy, and so delicious. Give it a try.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

physical therapy and how it's going ...

So, I’ve been doing physical therapy for a few days now, and my neck and shoulder are beginning to feel better. The last two visits, the therapist worked on my upper back/neck/shoulder for between 20 and 30 minutes, trying to get the muscles to release. Both times, they finally did, and the relief was wonderful. I’m working on my posture, and I’ve made some adjustments to my work station and chair at work, and even my seat in the car. In addition, I have exercises that I’m doing throughout the day.

I hope the day will come when I’m pain-free. When I stop to think about it, my shoulder has been this way a very long time, and I’ve just gotten used to it, for the most part, until it got so much worse recently. So it’s going to take some effort on my part to improve what I can, which will improve my entire spine, so they tell me.

On the way home tonight, I heard a great quote, and it fits so well with the work I’m doing to change my spinal problems:

“Abeunt studia in mores.” (Latin) = “Practices zealously pursued pass into habits.”

So … here’s to zealous pursuit of good practices!

P.S. My best pal Vikki's mom is going in for heart valve replacement surgery tomorrow morning. So, if you would, send up a prayer or good thoughts for Vikki's mom. We would both appreciate it so much!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lovely news!

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy! (Did anyone else watch Ren and Stimpy back in the early 90s?) Loved them.

But anyway. I had my “official” weigh-in this morning and Glory Be, I’m down by 3.5 pounds in the last week.

Now, I’m not letting myself say the old “it’s probably water weight, I shouldn’t get too excited…blah, blah, blah…” spiel. Not gonna go there. I refuse to do that! The fact of the matter is, I weighed 3.5 pounds less this morning than I did 7 days ago. I will take it and be glad.

It gives me hope that this new eating plan truly will work for me. I’ve got to say, I love it. The only thing I’ve really missed is “something sweet” after a meal occasionally. And I have a terrific recipe for a sugar-free microwave flaxseed “chocolate torte” that my friend Vikki Ann on the Low Carb Forum at About.com created. It meets the criteria of my new eating plan perfectly – no flour and no sugar. Yet it’s wonderfully yummy in an ooey-gooey way. Okay, my mouth is watering…

Sorry, I got off track there for a minute. Anyhoo, my original thought was that I remain hopeful in my new eating plan. I really can do this. And I really will lose weight!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

We had fun!

We had a good time last night at my work party. It's fun every once in awhile to get all dressed up and go to a party.

I did pretty well on my eating plan. I had one huge fried shrimp before dinner, dipped in a yummy roulade. There were a bunch of different appetizers they kept bringing around, but I resisted. Dinner was surf and turf with butternut squash and sauteed spinach, with a delicious sauce drizzled on the plate. I ate a little more than half of it.

Dessert (Lord help us) was a chocolate brownie-type pie, with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream and some type of caramel-y sauce drizzled. I took two tiny bites. Honest.

Anyway, it was fun and I'm glad we went.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday morning in a quiet house

Well, hubby just left to go get a haircut, and I'm sitting here sipping my coffee and sort of reflecting over the past week.

I think I've done well on the new eating plan. I say "think" because I've yet to weigh. "Official" weigh-in is Monday morning, and I'm hoping for at least a few pounds. I know 1-2 pounds is a "good result," but this is the first week, and what can I say ... I hope it's more than that. Anyway, I'm staying off the scale until Monday morning.

But I'm just not sure what to expect from the scale. I have felt very indulgent this week -- eating brown rice, eating Ezekiel bread, and a few other foods that would never, ever have been allowed into my low-carb eating plan.

I've also started using Splenda with Fiber. I figure if I'm going to use an artificial sweetener anyway, might as well get a little benefit from it.

It remains to be seen how successful the actual weight loss will be. But my joints do feel better this week. I don't know if that's related to my diet, but there it is.

I'm starting physical therapy this next week and hope it will help the pain in my neck, right shoulder, and upper back. It is affecting my daily life, so it's time to do something.

I've got the regular Saturday chores on my list of things to do today (clean house, do laundry) but I also want and need to clean out my closet. I've been putting it off mostly because of my right shoulder issue. It involves a lot of reaching and extending, and I just don't want to aggravate it any more than it already is. So ... I may defer it yet another week or so...

Tonight my firm that I work for has its annual anniversary party (black tie optional). I'm not "decking out" as much as I did last year, but I'm fairly happy with my outfit and hope it will be a fun evening. It basically consists of a cocktail hour, dinner, then dancing to a band and time for socializing. It's nice to see everyone dressed up and all the partners in a tux or very nice dress. And it's fun to see folks out on the dance floor and all their moves!

More later.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A quick update to my new eating plan

So, in response to all the comments and questions I’ve had about the new eating plan, I wanted to give a little clarification. There’s actually a book about this diet and I’ve had it for quite some time but have never tried this way of eating. But to simplify, the No Flour/No Sugar diet is basically just that – I’m not eating anything that contains either of those ingredients. And you would be surprised at how many products have sugar in them! But if either flour or sugar is listed in the ingredient list, I can’t have it.

Mostly this will be a whole, “real” food eating plan. Lots of fresh veggies and some fruit, plenty of protein, and limited fats. I’ve done really well today. Here’s my menu so far for the day:

2 cups coffee with Splenda and half and half

fresh veggies (baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and sliced cucumber) with a little Asian Walden Farms Salad Dressing for dipping

bean soup with ham

an apple with sunflower nut butter (sugar free and delicious!)

a small chicken breast, roasted
green beans with Mrs. Dash seasoning
small serving of rice

I feel good about this plan, and I really hope I can lose weight with it. It is a reduced carbohydrate plan, but by no means as low carb as I was doing up until a few months ago. But it would be wonderful if I can enjoy beans, oatmeal, etc. and still be able to lose weight. It sounds reasonable to me, and I guess time will tell.
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