Camp Cooking

My mind is on recipes for Pennsic. Or rather, on changing my view of what is and isn't 'easy' to make for two busy people (or for hosting a small set of friends).

See, after realizing that we were going to have to replace our 35-year-old Coleman camp stove, we dithered a bit and finally, thanks to the Memorial Day sale going on at Bass Pro, plunked down the extra $100 to buy a propane stove-oven rather than just a stove. Yup, I now have a camp oven to mess with. Yes, it is modern and not my beloved Viking-era kitchen stuff but I don't mind at all... I've wanted it for about three years now. Just for the idea of freshly-baked bread and cinnamon rolls to serve my man. Not to mention his idea of the Ultimate Meal - meatloaf. (Yeah, I know.) So those items are easy to consider. But I've 40 years of 'we don't really bake while camping' mindset to overcome, along with my diabetes 'shouldn't eat much grain' daily diet, so what I thought I'd be cooking if I ever got the oven - casseroles, pastries, meat pies - are now not so interesting. And I'm hard-pressed to think of what I should be putting together for this Pennsic, when he's going to be busy as usual and I'm going to be a Deputy Mayor (less busy than as Quartermaster or Head Troll, but more busy than as a general watch stander.)

There is a quick-snack item that I love to make, apple slices rolled up in cinnamon sugar covered croissant wedges, which will be nice to have on hand for guests and quick grabs, and the same concept will work for small meat pies, but beyond that - what is possible? Fast to put together yet not filled with carbs? I am going to have to do some recipe-sleuthing. After all, I must justify to the man that the extra expense and packing hassle is worth it. Although I think meatloaf and cinnamon buns will probably do the trick.

May. 20th, 2015

I have a nice pile of 'muslin' sitting on the kitchen table waiting for me to use it to cut out a new sarafan - and I can't. Just can't. I haven't suffered from cutting fear in a long while but it has hit me now, with a vengeance. And I gave myself a 'get it done by this Saturday' deadline, so I need to get over this fear quickly.

This is why I don't usually take commissions from people outside of my area. Because the fear of ruining their fabric just makes me freeze like a bunny noticing a snake.

May. 19th, 2015

Friday featured a 10-hour drive to Slippery Rock, PA, so we could attend the Pennsic staff meeting on Saturday. It was a long drive. We decided to check out route 68, which is West Virginia's pride - it was a lovely route but not a particularly safe one - the road hugged the hills and featured many three-lane sections specifically designed to handle the slower traffic of 4-cylider cars and laboring 18-wheelers. Of course, even though our little economy vehicle was stressed trying to go up the hills, the 85-mile-an-hour coasting down the other side was nice. We opted for our traditional route (Penn turnpike) on the way back, though, as a severe storm was sweeping through and we (rightly) anticipated flooding roads and rain-squall blindness. Normally the home drive is two hours shorter than the Pennsic drive but the rain squelched that so it was a little over 10 hours each way. That made for a very long weekend. Also a downer was the discussion with our hotel, which charged us for an extra night because we had secured our reservations for "Friday and maybe Saturday" with our credit card, only to find out on Saturday that they do not consider it 'securing' a reservation but rather booking the room. So even though we told them at check in on Friday that we would not be needing the extra day, and stressed it multiple times, we found that we were charged for it anyway, "because we had to turn other people away who wanted to reserve for that night, so you owe us that." A family-run hotel, just getting started, with only 18 rooms and the oddest one we'd ever stayed in. Needless to say, we will not be staying there again. (Not because of the misunderstanding, but because of spotty service and communication, and because the bathroom, while much larger than a regular one, was lit only by one light bulb so showering was done in a dim closet-like environment with no exhaust fan from the room. Bossman was smart enough to grab one of the floor lamps from our suite and place it in the bathroom, which helped with visibility.

The trip actually was a waste of time. I had a three-minute face-to-face with the mayor, and then on Saturday morning we had a less-than-one-hour general meeting, and that was it. It all could have been accomplished just as well over the internet via email. Thankfully this is the last time I'll be called on to make that meeting - I do not anticipate ever being in a key staff position again. Since I have no plans to train as a possible mayor, and have never been one in the past, I am not a candidate for a senior staff position. This year was my one 'shot', which I appreciate but am glad to walk away from. It has been a frustrating year of no training, no SOP, and no idea what was needed from me until a series of public messages announced that I was overdue on deadlines. My comment that an SOP would be useful was met with derision... I can find other ways to meet my 'frustration and humiliation quota".

Although - I am considering checking out the Lost & Found department. There have been some 'lean' years of people doing the job more because they were trying to take care of an empty spot in the staff rather than because they wanted the position. There hasn't been a good fit for a while now. I know I could do it well, and it would give me a niche to fill. Not to mention that the hours are great compared to the hours needed for the other jobs I've done!

This afternoon at the grocery store I picked up a 24-can case of soda to bring home and then stopped, grabbed an additional 12-pack to hold at the same time, and felt good about myself. The combine weight of the two is how much I've lost since mid-February. It was cheering to hold that awkwardly heavy bundle and realize that it was something I'd not be subjecting my bones to ever again. So even though I haven't lost a clothing size yet (that happens when you are as heavy as I am), it feels good to have an awareness of my progress. I do have more of a waist, though, now - my tummy no longer juts out beyond my chest. That is nice.

I'm spending the week sewing two Russian sarafans for a friend. I've only made their pattern so far so actually creating a real one is something I am looking forward to. I don't know much about the style - I'm copying a set of finished ones someone else made for her - but I feel confident these will look good on her. The pattern did, and it was just made of junk fabric. She is paying me to do the sewing so I might be able to afford ordering our new pavilion after the weekend. That would be one worry I could set aside.

And now I should go to google and see if I can learn a little more about sarafans, just to satisfy my own curiosity.

Simple pleasures

Emerging from a warm shower after using brand new shampoo & soap. Coconut & vanilla, in this case. Lounging around in my bathrobe sounds more inviting than getting dressed for the day.

Oh! And here's silly ice packs for our cooler.

Apr. 25th, 2015

We are almost done with our baronial fundraiser. I talked to the Baroness last night and she agreed that we could close the effort in the first week of May, in time for us to present the total amount earned to the group at our business meeting that week. I'll be so glad to be done with it. I've enjoyed the days spent with various people at our table, all of us working together and chatting - that has been wonderful. A good portion of the packaging and selling for individual orders has been easy, if time consuming, but another part of it has caused me to want to throw things in a temper tantrum from the hassle of it all. One repeat customer suggested that we bring the last of the batches to an event at the end of May (Ruby Joust) because campers there would be pleased to buy us out and cook it for their dinners... but truthfully, I want to be done.

I don't even know if we'll be attending Ruby. We have only missed one Gem Joust in all the time we've been in the SCA, that being when Bossman had his heart attack two days before the event (and he was the Marshal in Charge! Our current Baron stepped in to take his place, the sweet man, and the Autocrat sent a note to Bossman saying, "you could have just said "no", which made the poor hospitalized man hurt his chest from laughing so hard.) Anyway, Gem Joust (first "Diamond" which were before we joined, then "Emerald", then "Sapphire" and now "Ruby", those being the prizes for the winners of the tournaments) is now held in an area which is sharply divided between trees & lush grass or clay soil with scant grass. Our group camps in the clay area. I've always appreciated that since the place is teeming with ticks - teeming, you can actually watch the grass under the trees and see them crawling there - so I stick to the tourney area and our campsite as they are both in the clay-and-sparse-grass section. But with the weather shifts the event has been on scorching hot days and that clay reflects the heat terribly. Thus the disinclination to attend. It's danged hot and surrounded by trees I am allergic to, and then add in the ticks. I miss our old camp, which was a BSA camp. It had copperheads but few ticks.

This fundraiser had me pulling our our vacuum sealing machine to pack people's orders so they'd be safe from sloshing water & ice in coolers at the end of a day. We had many orders that were to be delivered at various events and they'd not be headed home until after feast or at least until after court before feast. And it hit me early on (but not early enough!) that we were packing the lumpia and Rolled Thin Pancakes in regular zip-lock bags to put in our freezer, but what were we going to do about getting them safely to the event where we'd be cooking them, and storing them during the day - plus getting them home - without any water leaking into the bags? Out came the sealer again, this time to make huge ice packs that wouldn't leak. I nearly filled our chest freezer with them. Most of them were cut up and thrown away when we got home but I'd been messing around with a few of them, thinking that we'd want to keep some for ourselves since they'd be so handy. And to mark them as 'ours', I added colorful beads to the water. They made me smile. Two leaked and had to be reworked and one hasn't come home yet from the house where it ended up with some of the extra lumpia stock. But I'd already found that the scant amount of beads I'd put inside were not enough so today we went out to A. C. Moore's and bought four strands of new beads of various types. Bossman found a package of plastic lizards at Whole Foods on the way home so those are going in our bags too. I should probably post a photo at some point, eh?

If they look cool enough and amuse us enough, we may make a few to give to friends for their day-event coolers. :)

And to top a good day of relaxation (only had to deliver one order of lumpia), Whole Foods had a new stock of Skyr and I got 6 containers of them. Bliss.

Apr. 7th, 2015

I've lost ten pounds of weight since I started showing flu symptoms last Wednesday night. The human body amazes me.

Apr. 5th, 2015

This has been the quietest weekend evar. Boooor-ing! A giddy round of playing games on my computer, sleeping on double pillows, and going through Kleenex and drinks at a rate that even my teenagers would have envied. Well, the 'going through sodas and water' bit anyway. I don't think they'd envy Kleenex use but then - boys are weird so who knows?

I have no profound thoughts. Actually, I pretty much have no thoughts right now. My fever keeps yo-yoing and right now I can't face going back to bed just yet. I shall return to playing my silly video game. This one: http://www.bigfishgames.com/games/8513/fantasy-mosaics-7-our-home/ , which after you complete the formal rounds has an 'endless' mode which does well for keeping my brain from imploding.

Brief Update

I haven't been on LiveJournal for weeks. In fact, I think I've missed some posts because my "previous 20" button led to a blank page before I saw the last post I'd remembered reading. So there's that.

Our SCA Baron and Baroness are stepping down and they'd like new coronets for their successors. And for themselves, if we could get them before Pennsic so they won't be wearing about 5lbs of steel on their heads during that event. This involves fundraising. I volunteered to organise another 'luncheon booth' featuring a modern version of a 14th century Mongol-Chinese meat roll "Thin Rolled Pancakes". The more modern version is lumpia, a Philippine dish. Its wrappers are more consistent with the earlier version than eggroll wrappers are. So for the last two weeks I've been hosting lumpia rolling days at home. We've made a little over 2,000 of them to date with about 300-400 more to do. Then, in two weeks, we shall have a booth up at an event called "Golden Rose Tourney" and sell the cooked meat rolls to the populace. Assuming that the ones folks are pre-ordering (frozen so they can cook them at home) don't deplete our supplies too much. Which, honestly, I don't see happening except for specific types. We have special batches without onions, for example, since we know that many people are allergic to them.

I calculated the amount of carbs, protein, and calories for each roll. Mostly for myself, to be frank, but also for those who I know would feel they needed to skip the lumpia because it was "too fattening / too high in carbs". As it turns out, a regular (as opposed to "heavy fighter's") serving of three to four lumpia is one within the range of permissible for adult diabetics, and is a little under 300 calories but tastes a whole lot better than a sandwich with that many calories.

So, Busy. When not 'rolling', I am shopping for more supplies to prep for the following rolling session. (Oh! And in the process I stopped by Whole Foods to buy pine nuts and picked up some more skyr for myself, and had the happy discovery that a small carton of skyr has 20 grams of protein in it, more than the average protein bar does, and stil has fewer calories. Not to mention it tastes so much better. I was a happy woman until my supply ran out again.) Or delivering finished rolls to various people's houses to store in their freezers. And I talked our webminister into putting up a webpage for it: http://www.baronyofmarinus.com/lumpia-fundraiser.php

I got to take a break during one weekend and spent it acting as a judge for the Jamestown Settlement's "Military Through the Ages" (http://www.historyisfun.org/jamestown-settlement/military-through-the-ages/ ). I really enjoyed myself. Part of that was the chance to spend time with a friend I rarely see (we judged together) and part of it was simply being able to evaluate a group's presentation and to get a chance to truly appreciate all the dedication that goes into creating an interpretation of a slice of history. I hope that I get to do it again.

Pushed myself hard, came down with the flu. I've spent the last two days trying to get my temperature down below 100f and have finally succeeded. All of a sudden food looked marvelous! I couldn't even look at food while I was fevered. Had less than 700 calories on the first day I was sick. Also lost 5 pounds so far but I know I'll find them again now that I'm feeling better.

Oh, and my latest CT scan showed an enlarged lymph node next to my heart. Which may be nothing to worry about or may be a secondary cancer, something fairly common among those of us with GIST. I'll know more next June after my next CT. Yeah - waiting that long. I'm not really digging it. Long ago I told myself that if the GIST returned or if I got some other form of cancer, I was going to take that as my sign from the Almighty that my time card had been punched. That was fine in theory for my hubby but now that we're looking at it as a possibility, he isn't interested in letting me stick to that. He says that as long as there is some form of treatment he wants me to fight. I am torn over this - I understand his grief and fear, but at the same time, I don't want to live the last bit of my life sick and suffering through another round of treatments only to come out in the end more damaged than I was before we started. This ole body has lasted through some awful stuff but I wouldn't mind trading it in for something a little more comfortable and painfree, although I am sure I'd miss those I love dreadfully.

I'm just parking this here

We were watching "NCIS" (yes, we do) and I have to give the writers props for this quote:

"You can drop that gavel, take of those robes, and stop judging."

I doubt I'll ever have an occasion to use the line but it makes me smirk a bit in amusement.

Feb. 23rd, 2015

I've been trying to think about how to deal with a particular behavior that has been cropping up in my world lately - often enough that I am reacting with barely-hidden contempt for the displayers of the behavior (which is NOT the way I want to react!)

I don't know if there is a name for this pattern. I do understand that it springs from a feeling of inadequacy or insecurity. It's has become the norm to be treated to an almost-theatrical sigh followed by "Someday I would like to be good enough to deserve _____ award" or "I'll never earn that - ever" when a person having just received it is brought up in conversation, leading into a second remark (perhaps) of, "I'll just never be up in those levels of Society [or whatever height it is]". In one particular person's case, it happens every. single. time. good news is shared about someone we know. In all cases the speaker is obviously looking for a quick denial from their audience; that they are in fact that good, or sure to get noticed and awarded whatever it is, or will sometime very, very soon (they show disappointment when that isn't a response)... often this seems to also be accompanied by other conversation gambits such as waiting until the discussion moves on and someone else in the group of people is talking and then they'll start a secondary conversation towards a nearby person who is listening to the current speaker specifically so they can name-drop or brag about being noticed over the past week by someone both parties are familiar with and respect. Which may well then be followed by yet another mournful sigh about how "someday I might be good enough to considered as smart/knowledgable/fabulous as they are."

I understand the need to be noticed and reassured of your worth. But my immediate reaction is almost always one of revulsion towards that person and a desire to shut the speaker down as harshly as possible. Which I don't do - of course - but I'm wondering how I can teach myself a better reaction to what seems to me to be "Plays for Praise". I don't like my kneejerk reaction even if it gets tiring to be around people who seem to constantly need to throw themselves into the limelight and get petted for, well, just doing the job they volunteered for. Doing it well, yes, and that's nice, but am I required to applaud every day? I enjoy being a cheerleader for my friends and acquaintances but, but - I despise being cornered into it in every gathering by more than one person. By the time person number two (or maybe three) has started in, I'm ready to snap, "you cannot whine yourself into an Order or award, so frikking get over it." Which is not the way I want to treat the people I care about.

And more important than me trying to retrain myself to a more loving reaction, how do I teach those who exhibit this behavior that it is both unattractive and will certainly not further their goals towards being thought deserving of that craved honor/award/regard?


This whine is brought to you by the letters E, G, and O. And the Book of Face, which made sure that I got my daily dose of the behavior before I retired to my bed. And I thought I'd escaped it today...

Feb. 21st, 2015

Ice in holly, Feb 2015

That is an over-six foot tall mass of icicle in our holly bush by the front door (if a holly is now over 8 feet tall, but still trimmed into a rectangular shape with a flat top, is it a bush or has it graduated to 'tree'?). There is a corner made by our roof gutters where the short side of our porch roof meets the front of the house, and no matter how clean the gutters are water likes to drip from the cut part of the trimmed-and-merged corner. Which, over the course of this week's snow and daily sun-melt, has created this chunk of ice. It is about three feet thick at its thickest point. We don't dare try to break it away from the plant for fear of damaging the limbs its gotten itself entwined with. If I had a blow-dryer for my hair, I'd try melting the ice but I haven't owned one of those for years.

Hopefully we will remember this and sometime after the spring rains we can use a sealant to coat the line of the merged edges so no more water can drip from it. It's never been a problem in the past, being too far from the front door for the occasional drip to bother us as we come in and out.

And the Ice Sheeted Down, Blinding Me

That was actually true yesterday. I'd given our youngest a ride to work on Wednesday night so in the middle of the snowstorm I was out driving - slowly - to get him to work. Which meant that while I had scraped off all the snow on the windows and as much as I could reach on the roof & bonnet, I hadn't gotten it all off before I hopped into the car and turned on the defrosters.

So of course the next morning there was a nice 2 inch thick layer of ice coating the bonnet, the windshield, and a portion of the roof. Along with a thick layer of ice-sealed soft snow on the roof. After 20 minutes of the defrosters blasting the window was cleared, with me throwing broken-window-like chunks of ice over my shoulders onto the lawn. And the ice sheet on the bonnet came off in almost one perfectly formed sheet, which made me wish there was someone else around to marvel at it with me. But the roof - ah, well, I was too short to reach most of it and thought that I'd just have to wait until it had really warmed up from inside before it would be amiable to prying off.

The shopping trip I had with the youngest went quickly and well, and checking the roof when we arrived at the outlet store indicated that the ice was still firmly glued to it. On the way home, however, I began to think that it surely should be ready to remove (I deplore drivers who leave snow on their cars to blow back into the path of the following cars) and thanked my stars that we were driving down suburban roads with very few vehicles on them.

Dropped the boy-man off and headed the four blocks home. And then stopped at the first stop sign on my route. And a five-foot wide sheet of ice slid down the windshield to break into chunks before my eyes. Naturally, that is when the first car I'd seen in our neighborhood appeared - right behind me. The windshield wipers brushed the chunks away (WOW are they strong!) and I slowly and carefully moved on towards our house, seeing an extending ridge of about five inches of ice lining the top of the windshield. Cars parked on the street kept me from attempting to pull over and deal with it right then. And the car behind me followed me down the road and into our street. It turned out he was a neighbor who lived just past our place. I found that out after I pulled to a stop in the street preparatory to backing into the driveway... which was when a full 5x4 foot sheet of ice-bound snow slid off the roof and snuggly onto the entire front of my windshield.

Luckily, one does not need to see out of the front window to back into a driveway.

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Feb. 19th, 2015

I have a lovely little personalized 'cheat sheet' of calories & carbs for my favorite meals at various restaurants. I love my little cheat sheet...

Alas, I must now eschew counting carbs (although it is "okay for me to keep an eye on them") for counting grams of protein instead. And so my cheat sheet must be completely revised. It is printed in two columns on each side of one sheet of paper, making it easy to fold & keep in the food log's pocket and to take with me when we travel. I've gotten one column done and feel as though I've been up to my eyeballs in data searching. All because on one restaurant.

Cracker Barrel - I hate you.

It is the favorite restaurant for friends to dine at when we travel to and from events so I cannot hide from it, but not only does the chain neglect to have nutritional information available to their customers, they cook their foods "the old-fashioned way" which means most vegetables are cooked with ham & bacon bits and added butter, and there are hidden calories galore... coming up with a good (well, reasonable) estimation of the carbs/protein/calorie amounts for the various meals I'd be most likely to eat has been a true headache. I've limited my list to those specific offerings I am familiar with so I will know the little things like "do they brush their biscuits with butter while baking them" or "this side dish is definitely prepared with butter and ham bits" and that sort of thing. Thank goodness I'm done with that. I shudder to think about the future when I shall have to revisit it to take into account fish dishes. I'm growing fond of those, albeit slowly. After a break I shall return to work on the nice & easy menus with - ta da! - nutritional information pages actually tabulated for the customer. Diary Queen's was enjoyable. Too bad I barely needed it. They let you add or subtract things and then the program totals your whole meal's nutritional data for you online. It was fun just to play with it.

I've been feeling so much better since I've begun seeing this nutritionist and following her diet plan. And I'm somewhat proud of myself. The information package warned new patients that they'd be getting weekly appointments until they were responding positively to their plans, and then after a few months they could reduce visits to every two weeks, and later go to a monthly routine unless there was a problem. Mostly, it is to train the patient into disciplining themselves into their new dining habits. I saw the doctor two weeks ago and then today. Yes - we skipped the starting "every week" gig because I brought my food log with me on my first visit and she was impressed with the care I'd been taking with carefully watching each bite or drink. (I did have to go through a "do you have a food scale/know how to read a nutritional label/etc." discussion). After looking at the latest results - my blood glucose levels have dropped 40 points, weight is down 8 pounds in two weeks -she said she didn't need to see me again for a month. She believes that the difficulty in losing weight came specifically from an imbalance in nutritional types and now that it has been corrected, basically my old method of food management should do the trick. We will be revisiting numbers again a couple of months to see what needs to be fine tuned.

I startled her by telling her I was regretting that my thyroid functions were completely normal. It would have been such a convenient excuse for being obese! It made her laugh.

Now that the initial metabolic study is done, I'm on a totally different sort of plan than I have been following in the last two weeks. I've been given a set amount of calories (1300-1600) and most importantly no less than 80g daily of protein. That, my friends, is a lot of protein. Wow. She loaded me down with health-system-produced munchies that were high in protein; snack bars, chips(!), even cookies and biscotti, but I'm free to eat pretty much anything I want within the new limits saving that my salad dressing cannot be more than 40 calories a serving (sad, sad me - my Marie's low-cal Bleu cheese dressing is at 70 - I may have to do some squirrelling around with other foods in the day to work that in as acceptable once in a while).

No exercise has been started. I think she wants to get a little more weight off of me before that. To, there are some cardiac things to clear up thanks to my past history but that should be minor. Arni and I looked at the three-wheeler bicycle at Sam's Club again. It's still available. It'd be nice to try starting to ride this spring, don't you think?

I must eat no less than the minimum amount of calories and protein in a day. I foresee times when I may be forced to bring the detested protein bars into play.

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Recently Read (tee hee)

From the Danish–Old English book of useful everyday phrases:

Please tell us where the valuables are hidden, otherwise we will torture you to death.

We require a payment of 1000 pounds of silver not to attack you this summer.

Is there a boat repair man in this village?

This armour is rusty, and worth nothing.

Can your repair this helmet? The nose-guard has fallen off.

How much money do you want for that girl?

Do you have any pickled herring?

This head belongs to ---. We cut it off.

More beer!

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A new meal plan

Yesterday was "non-surgical weight loss clinic day". It was not as humiliating as I expected it to be, not at all. In fact, the staff sort of made me feel as though my actual weight was immaterial to the goal of getting healthier, as if the projected loss was merely a by-product of the process I'll be going through. The imaging booth, however, was quite sobering even before I got the printout of my various measurements. Oh my. I know most fat people try not to look at themselves - I am no different - so that was rough. I suppose I will appreciate the measurements later on as things shrink.

The doctor (now to be referred to as "Dr. Slimming") and her nurse were both shocked about the words our regular doctor (Dr. Everyday) had said to me as well as with his ignorance about weight management. Dr. Slimming muttered to herself that she "needs to meet this Dr. ____." Since they are both in the same umbrella medical organization (Sentara Health Care), I have a feeling that his next company-mandated annual class may be in a subject not of his own choosing.

For the next two weeks I shall be on a rather restricted meal plan. This will enable Dr. Slimming to compare my original fasting bloodwork to what will come from the carefully-controlled foods, giving her a good idea of my overall metabolic functions so we can work out a comfortable meal plan for the future. One thing she said to me surprised me. She said that most medications commonly prescribed for diabetes will stimulate even more insulin production in low-edge-diabetic (that'd be me) patients, which results in higher daily hunger levels and also causes the body to be more efficient than ever in converting and storing fat. So it isn't uncommon for new diabetics to begin to gain weight even though they are eating less than they had previously.

I am eating a LOT of food (comparably). More bread in a day than normal, that is for sure, even if it is "45 calories per slice". At 20g of carbohydrates for two slices, it seems dangerous! I have to eat two-four slices a day. And three eggs each morning, unless I prefer a low-fat yogurt, a serving of (hospital brand, extraordinarily expensive) oatmeal, and a small fruit. I've not had a doctor suggest that many eggs in a week, much less on a daily basis. It seems very odd. I'm sure I am going to be very tired of those two meals by the end of the study period.

There is not to be any cooking with oil, not even olive oil. I had to buy some of that spray stuff (which is, btw, oil) to use. No butter, either. It appears that one of the things important in this two-week diet is an almost total elimination of fat. Lean meats only, low calorie cheese (45 calories per slice, which is less than useless in flavor as far as I am concerned.), and no other dairy.

Eight to ten ounces of cooked meat for each dinner. I looked at the giant slab of roast beef on my plate last night and thought she was insane. Every night?? It took a while but I ate it all. There were two cups of vegetables to go with it too. Gracious.

This won't last long, just until our next appointment in two weeks. Then we can formulate something less restrictive in menu. It does pretty effectively cut out any hopes of dinning out for me though, and will make event weekends somewhat challenging.

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Boxing Day featured boxing at the movies

We rose early enough to attend the first show of "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies" in the normal manner, none of that 3-D IMAX stuff for this one, thankyewverymuch. Luckily for us our Youngest was free from working so we all went together. It was 'okay'. I'd give it 3 stars on a scale of 1-5, but probably only because I liked one or two of the actors in their characterizations.

Then we walked across the central courtyard to enter the Lynnhaven Mall to attempt lunch. Disastrous! Post-Christmas crowds reminded me of an old Star Trek scene about an overcrowded planet looking for the means of death... it was elbow-to-elbow in there. We retreated back to the theater to enjoy one-person-per-seat comfort while watching "Big Hero 6", where my husband stunned me by eating a second full bucket of popcorn. The movie was nicely amusing. Nothing I'd re-watch, I think, but I'm glad to have seen it.

After that all we could think of was acquiring food. Or rather, the two non-popcorn-eating moviegoers were hungry. The Village Inn, which we hadn't visited in months, was sparsely attended and featuring a sale on pumpkin pies (a whole pie for the price of one normal slice). Brunch, or perhaps "lunner", was consumed and each household retreated to our lairs with a new pie in hand, with many a delighted "because, pie!" exclamation throughout the last hour of our outing.

It was a nice, unhurried day. Spending eight hours of it with our child made it even more relaxing. Although I am far past my limit in conversations about certain Sci-Fi channel TV shows, RPGs, and video games. But we did have other conversations which were invigorating and of course there were a few moments of complete accord in viewing conventions of polite society, politics, and poor US news sources. And the fact that we all were unable to come up with a replacement word for referring to our sons now that they are long past adulthood. "The boys" doesn't actually sound right when talking about two men in their 30s, yet "the men" certainly isn't going to do. "Our sons" does work, but also sounds stilted. Our Youngest tells me that I have the right to continue calling him and his brother "the boys" "because you are our mom, mom - geez!" but he was as engaged as I was in attempting to find an new designator for use.

In other news, thanks to a vigorous windstorm last weekend, our willow tree has caught a cold and sneezed all over our lawn, our neighbor's lawn, our roof, and both streets on our corner.

Extraordinary Comfort!

Bossman gave me a new mouse, mousepad, and a cool "ergobeans" wrist support. My goodness, the comfort. And that darned mouse makes the arrow fly across the screen. I am currently using the touchpad to navigate with in order to make this entry bcause I'll have to play some solitaire games using the new mouse so I can grow accustomed to it. It has thumb-buttons, too, which I shall have to go online to read about and decide if I want to download their program and activate them. I've been using a tiny 'travel' mouse for the last two years and this feels like heaven.

New socks (they're very cute. And one pair is knee-length merino, which I'm going to bless during our winter events) and new slippers... and a big gift certificate for Barnes & Noble to make my Nook explode. Followed by two more certificates from Youngest Son and Opi. Oh, oh, oh - my fiction world is going to be incredibly full.

I am feeling very, very rich right now.

Our pot roast dinner came out perfectly - no knife was needed to cut the meat. We ate until the bursting point, pretty much, then sat around the table packaging everything up into "keep" and "send with them" sets. Our youngest and his room-mate went home with a goodly haul of food. Even though one tried to steal the largest pot roast and leave the second one's leftovers for us. Of course, he was grinning as he oh-so-carefully tried to slide it into the empty cake container he was taking home. He didn't have a chance in heck - Bossman was arguing with me about sending any roast anywhere but into our fridge! So I guess I can count that meal a success.

Next year, I'm going to suggest "breakfast for Christmas". Outside of purchasing the supplies, all I'd have to do is make toast. Bossman is in charge of family breakfasts.

Dec. 24th, 2014

It is cold & windy here and has been for the last few days. It appears it will continue, too, for the next few, so our Christmas will be dreary on the outside.

I'm cooking the weirdest Christmas dinner I've ever cooked in my life. Yankee Pot Roast. I asked the guys (there will be three guys and myself at the table) what they were interested in having and this was the surprising consensus. Must be because two of them are bachelors and of the two, only one of them cooks - if you can define 'cooking as "messing around with various pre-mixed spice packages to add to either rice or beans". I know for a fact that our youngest son hasn't had pot roast since he left our house years ago. But still - it is very weird for me. Everything else will be our normal fare; saving Savoury Toasted Cheese, which I deliberately left off of the menu for once. We'll see how that plays out.

I've been incredibly slothful for the last couple of months. I have barely even looked at anything heraldic. Last night I finally went through the unread messages in the email list, the earliest of which dated to the second week in October. That's pretty sad. After laying down my office that same week I think my heraldry-brain just shut down. I'm starting to regain my enthusiasm for it now, off and on, with the 'on' growing longer in time daily. Perhaps there was more stress involved in it than I had realized. Instead I've been sewing, sleeping (yay head-cold & sinus/ear infection!), reading novels, and taking apart Lego buildings that have been waiting for almost a year to be disassembled. Oh, and I built "Santa's Workshop", the newest of the Lego Winter Village sets. But mostly I've been sleeping and playing solitaire on the computer.

I had to have a ring cut off of my finger last week. It was my dedication ring, purchased 25 years ago to commemorate my dedication as a Wiccan priestess. I've not removed it since that night, saving surgical necessities. Right now it is sitting on my altar looking sadly misshapen. I don't know if I shall ever be able to wear it again as the reason I had to have it removed was because of developing arthritis. The knuckle just above where I'd worn it is still swollen and the doctor tells me that while the arthritis isn't very bad, there will likely always be swelling at that spot, especially if I should wear a ring on that finger. He had the same sort of experience himself, he said, and now wears his wedding ring on a chain around his neck. The X-ray didn't show any signs of damage to the bones so my arthritis is slight. I'll just have to be a little more aware about how I use that hand.

Growing old isn't for sissies.

Dec. 5th, 2014

I want to post about what is going on with me, or rather 'the most immediate thing that is going on in my world', but it is actually too private to be throwing out here into the aether. Suffice it to say that I am now enrolled in a weekly support group, to help me sort out issues which will decide the direction of my future life.

Yeah, vaguebooking, I know. I'm sorry. One of the things I brought home with me tonight was a sharp awareness that I have absolutely no one to talk to about what I am going through. Possibly I could talk with one of our sons but it seems very wrong to ask one's child to be one's comforter.

Speaking of 'one's child' - our Eldest and his sweetie flew out from Las Vegas a week before Thanksgiving. We had some family laughter around the table (first stop - all the eateries that have been missed) and then drove up to the DC area to attend an event (Holiday Faire, where I 'merchanted') and visit with a few young people who'd grown up in the SCA with our children. That was fun but rushed - except for Sunday afternoon, which Bossman and I spent in a Fairfax Barnes and Noble while the 'kids' went sight-seeing. We'd stayed in a hotel near the event site but the younger set overnighted in the townhouse now owned by one of them. So we were 45 minutes away and in a poor position to try to time it to join them for the sightseeing. The elderly (sic) slept in, had a leisurely brunch, and then settled in at B&N. Which was having a kid's event and was absolutely packed. So packed, in fact, that I ended up sitting in our truck for the last hour, napping and reading. It was so much more peaceful there!

The rest of the week was spent shopping, helping our Vegasites gather supplies for her family's Christmas celebration. There is no "5 & Below" in Las Vegas, with its bargain prices for handy gifts. We visited three different ones here, taking in all the variety to ensure that they had all their list provided for. As it was, they ended up having to pay shipping costs for a large package via UPS, and for extra luggage when they left - and yet they were gleeful about the amount of money they'd saved. Or more truthfully, gleeful that the same amount they'd set aside paid for things of better quality than they'd hoped for, even after the additional shipping fees.

And I taught her how to sew. They flew out on her birthday, with her knowing that our Eldest was going to give her a sewing machine when they got home. He wisely gave her an "IOU" so she could choose which model she wanted. Me, I gave her "The Idiot's Guide to Sewing".

Oh - and the PET scan my husband had has been interpreted by the radiologist. We haven't seen the oncologist to hear it officially, but the scan showed no evidence of surviving cancer cells. He still has a huge mass of scar tissue where the tumor once was, which will most likely not be re-absorbed into his body, and the four ribs are going to stay divided into parts, which blows for ease of movement along his left side, but still - the cancer is dead.

Nov. 18th, 2014

For the past two, maybe three, weeks I've been sewing for my little booth at Holiday Faire. I haven't made enough stock though, not enough to reach my goal even if it all sells. There are a lot of merchants at that event and many of them are selling garb. Oh well - I will make some money and I know that some tired and anxious parents will have clothing for their children that they won't have to try to find the time to make themselves.

But pricing has been a struggle. I know that SCA garb is almost always sold under-price compared to what would be considered normal for Renn Faires or other venues. $15-$20 a tunic/dress is the most I can reasonably charge for the majority of my wares else no one will buy them - not for clothing designed to fit infants to size 8(ish). So I know that this won't be the one-shot effort that I had imagined. I'll have to set up my booth at least once more before spring, and then suck it up and serve ramen for a while so we can afford the new pavilion. Thank goodness them suckers last a long time! I don't believe we'll need another one again. Our enthusiasm for camping is fading as the TV and chair look more and more inviting. "Hotel" events are going to be more our norm.

Just for the fun of it, behind the cut are some of my little outfits. At least, some of the ones I feel fond of. SCA clothes for little peopleCollapse )