eating, reading

The autoimmune diet continues.  Basically no dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, nightshades, alcohol, added sugar.  It's pretty limiting but I've gotten fairly used to it.  I am a creature of habit so once I got my new routine down it's been fairly smooth.  Going on 7 weeks now and I'm only just now playing around with adding a couple things back in.  Seed spices like nutmeg, some ghee from grass-fed cows, egg yolks. To my surprise and dismay, I noticed the numbness and tingling a lot more the days following the egg yolks.  No fun.  I mean, we have chickens!  I love eggs!  We'll see.

So - loads of veggies.  Loads of coconut in all forms (including the homemade coconut milk above, and the flour that results).  Some fruit.  Some meat.  Lots of soups still.  A whole lot of butternut and spaghetti squash.  Greens.  Sweet Potatoes.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  I was actually telling a friend just yesterday that I hadn't been noticing the numbness and tingling much these days and then last night and today it's been worse again.  I had the egg yolks in 'pancakes' (I am using that word ever so loosely here- they were basically banana or pumpkin with a couple egg yolks and some coconut milk and maybe a spoonful of coconut flour- they left a lot to be desired) Saturday and Monday morning.  And then the symptoms returned.  Could be something else, who knows.  Such a rabbit hole, all of this.  The reading and the experimenting and the mindfulness-ing.  Sigh.

Anyway, books.  Along with a fairly sizable stack of books on autoimmune fun and thyroid health, I've been keeping up with my fiction reads as well.  Here is where I admit to having never read To Kill a Mockingbird before (there may have been some cliff notes action in high school, but I think we were just assigned other books and then I never picked it up in adulthood), so I read that and Go Set a Watchman recently.  The books pictured above.  I have Braiding Sweetgrass and News of the World up next.  Also, Hillbilly Elegy.  Anyone read that?  I am hearing mixed reviews.  Mike just read it and if I'm quick I can maybe read his copy before it's due instead of having to wait until it's my turn in the library queue.

For now, time to go hit the hay and finish reading about this grumpy old Ove.

Happy Spring~


goodnight, february

 We had a warm February down here in Western NC.  I know many have, in many places.  Frighteningly many places, really.  This is the second year in a row that we haven't been able to tap the neighborhood sugar maples (we haven't had a long enough period of cold and then freezing nights and thawing days before the trees set bud).  I don't like having to buy maple syrup after making our own for three years, but that's not the real reason it bothers and worries me, of course.

 So yes, a sunny and mostly very warm February.  I actually didn't set out to sound so gloomy about it, but sometimes I can't help it.  I mean, who doesn't love sunshine on their shoulders, right?  But still........ ugh.  There are so many things out there, hugely important things, that rely on seasons and the appropriate playing out of natural rhythms in order to move along just right, and often I just can't help but feel anxious about it.

 Anyway- a February wrap-up, that's what this is.  And so here goes:  Claire invited a new neighbor over for a tea party (our new neighbor is a woman in her 60s who lives two doors down with her two miniature dachshunds.  Claire has become fast friends with all three of them, and it is quite sweet and reminds me of my own childhood friendship with an older next-door neighbor.  I need to tell some stories about Lulu, sometime......), we continue watching the birds regularly for Cornell University's Project Feederwatch, there are plants in sunny windowsills, eggs a plenty once again, daffodils blooming everywhere.  Witch hazel blossoms, and the plum tree, too.  Grape hyacinths, violets......... I've even spied a few dandelions.  A wonderful visit with a dear sweet baby cousin of Claire's and my lovely sister-in-law.  Seeds are started, peas and spinach have been planted, the garlic we planted in the fall has a solid 6" of growth peeking up through the leaves.  I have spent the whole month eating mostly broth and vegetables and meat and a bit of fruit and coconut thrown in.  I miss crunchy.  Maybe soon.  I've aimed to do yoga every day and just about made it.  Not quite, but pretty close.  I've read a few good books and just started another.  I suppose it is noteworthy as well that I wasn't sick at all this month.  A little scratchy throat from time to time- thwarted each time it would seem by a couple days of regular dosing of good homemade tinctures and extra tea and rest, but nothing that really got me down and out.  Looking back, it seems February is often a month that I finally succumb to a bit of wintry illness after thinking I've just about gotten away with not.  Not this year, though.

 She got a new jumprope for Valentine's Day and has been happily hop-skip-jumping around with it.  There have been several barefoot days.  There was even a day, last Thursday, when it hit the high 70s and we pulled out the blue plastic dollar store kiddie pool and Claire splashed around in it at lunchtime.  In February.

 The plum tree is out in all her glory now.  Just in time for a 28 degree night last weekend.  Things are still looking okay though- the bees were all over it today, their legs heavy with the bright pollen.  The tree looked almost as if it were buzzing itself there were so many honeybees and mason bees and various other pollinators on it.  I think we're supposed to be back into the low to mid twenties in a few nights, so........  we'll see.  We didn't get plums last year because of a similar pattern, so I'm not getting too hopeful.  We'll just see.

And now, March.


health happenings

so I went to my doctor last summer after having odd feelings of numbness/tingling/heaviness in my arms, back, and face for..... well for a few months.  I started with massage and network chiropractic care and while those were helpful, it wasn't lasting and I figured I best get it checked out.  well, she couldn't find anything but she sent me to a neurologist who then sent me for brain and neck MRIs.  to rule out scary things.  that was a long hour or so spent in a noisy tube, but thank you thank you thank you, all was clear.  but there was still that pesky numbness.  it came and went all summer and stayed gone for a few weeks after some magical cranio-sacral work.  come fall and then through the winter, it came and went (is coming and going) again.  more massage.  a visit to the acupuncturist.  another visit with the doctor, another cranio-sacral appointment.......  who knows what it is.  But, I did find out a few things that are important to know.  I am deficient in D (I know it's common, but I was still surprised! I'm outside in the sunshine a lot and almost never use sunscreen- come on!), have a low liver enzyme that likely means a zinc deficiency, and I have an autoimmune thyroid disorder called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (which, as it turns out, typically goes hand in hand with low zinc and Vitamin D).

So- none of that may even explain the numbness and tingling, but here I am.  I've been reading a lot and eating very differently.  I mean, I've considered my diet a very healthy one for a long time- whole foods, lots of veggies, little sugar, gluten-free, minimal processed stuff....... A creature of habit, I typically had an egg and gluten free toast in the morning (or oatmeal if it was cold, yogurt if it was really hot), beans and greens and avocado on corn tortillas for lunch, and a rotation of fairly simple protein meets veggies dinners with a grain thrown in for that satisfying fill-you-up-ness. Snacking on fruit or veggies or tortilla chips and homemade salsa, maybe some nuts or a rice cake with peanut butter......

Well lately that has changed.

Lately it has been broth.  Broth and broth and broth and broth.  And well cooked vegetables, pureed at first, but now whole.  Some well cooked meat.  I have pretty much had soup of some sort for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two weeks.

Basically, I did a week of homemade broths and pureed 'low residue' vegetable soups (with lots of coconut oil added in because your body needs fat), and vegetable juices.  And then last week I started the very limiting GAPS intro diet.  The thing with GAPS though is that they fairly quickly reintroduce a bunch of foods that the Autoimmune Protocol recommends keeping away from for a good long while (yummy things like eggs and dairy and nuts and seeds) before slowly reintroducing to identify any trigger foods, so while I'm all about the gut-healing benefits of the GAPS intro diet, I'm not completely sure it makes the most sense for me because even though I'm moving through the phases, I'm not adding very many of the things I could be adding, so it's a bit anticlimactic when I reach a new stage.  Well, I was psyched when I added in avocados and sautéed onions, and I'm really looking forward to cooked apples tomorrow since I haven't had fruit in 2 weeks, but still.......

Overall, I've had more energy and (aside from constantly being a little hungry) I feel pretty great.  I'm taking just a couple of the supplements recommended for Hashimoto's, along with digestive enzymes and a high potency probiotic.  A 50,000 IU Rx for D3.  Drinking lots of good water and doing yoga pretty much every day.  I still have the numbness and tingling, and I won't lie- it annoys me that the thing that got me going to the doctor in the first place hasn't been resolved or figured out yet and here I got this bonus autoimmune diagnosis.... sigh.  In a way though, it is empowering to have the information and be able to put together some of the puzzle when looking at my lab work.  Inconveniently empowering, yes, but......... ah well.

What I miss most is my corn tortillas.
 And my toast.  Toast can fix just about anything.



seven.  wow.

The (very cold, windy) Saturday before her birthday we met up with a group of her buddies at a trailhead nearby and hiked the 3/4 mile or so together to the playground, where we had lunch, hot cider, and cupcakes waiting.  The kids ran and played and the adults huddled around with cider and found sunny places to stand while we talked about all sorts of things.  We sang to her as papa presented the tray of cupcakes, but we didn't even try to light candles because of the wind.  That was her birthday party this year.  It was sweet and simple, it got us outdoors on a cold day, and I didn't have to clean my house before or after.

Here is a link to a post about her super sweet tea party from last year, along with some photos from the day she was born.  love, love, love.

A couple mornings later, on her actual birthday, she woke to balloons in her doorway and some simple decorations, flowers, and gifts in the dining room.  There had been a light dusting of snow overnight (there had been a blizzard the night before she was born).  We had a sweet visit with my mom and then, later, she chose to stay home with papa while I worked (mostly so she could watch The BFG) and later that evening we hosted some very close friends for a special birthday dinner.  This time, there were candles.

happy seventh time around the sun, dear sweet girl.



I made us matching hats, my girl and I. 

'pama' is a mix-up of 'papa' and 'mama' that Claire used to use, often and accidentally, when addressing one or the other of us and then realizing mid-speak, that she was talking to the other.  It comes up every now and then, as it did in this little message left behind for us. love, love, love.

not bad for a salad plucked from a January cold frame...

Snow! we got some! 
(and we hope a bit more will come our way before winter's end...)

cold, snowy days are good days for herbal tea brewing and medicine making

So we looked at photos and watched videos of civil rights marches on MLK, Jr. Day, and I talked a little with Claire about how lots of women all over the world were gathering to walk in solidarity for equal rights for themselves and others, and for many, many other things.  It was a brief conversation, really.  I told her our little town was holding it's own march and I asked her if she would like to go and she said yes.  A few hours later she showed me this- a little 'dry run' I suppose, with her plastic animals.  Apparently her plastic animals have strong feelings about women being treated well, being treated the same as men, and being paid more money.  Also, they are fans of love.  LOVE!  love is love is love is love.