Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Leftover Turkey

So I am home. Mostly rested, mostly unpacked. The trip home was so uneventful. I did watch 5 movies on the plane because the laws of not getting jetlag dictated that no sleeping was allowed.

Still binging on Chris's kilo of Turkish Delight.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Baste the Turkey: Clean and Massage to Prepare

So no post yesterday because nothing exciting happened. And by nothing I mean we did not get a little tipsy at our hotel, then take hotdogs we stole from breakfast to feed stray dogs, in the process loosing our key, get a new key, decide the old key needed to be found as we traipsed the grounds followed by our new found pack of wild dogs.
Our hotel staff definitely thinks, these American bitches be crazy.
So today we actually set an alarm to get the hospital shuttle to the ferries at Pendick bound for Yalova.

Before we ever left, Laura said she wanted to try the Turkish Baths. That scared me (I have issues with other peoples cleanliness) so I started researching. It turns out that a lot of tourists visit the Turkish baths. Rather than go into the city, I found out there is a small town based around a natural sulphur spring which would be easy to get to by ferry. Ataturk so loved these healing waters that he built a house there.

Back to today. So seabus from Pendick to Yalova, dolmus to Termal. If you're Keeping count we just got transportation Bingo.

  The seabus is a fast car ferry

We'd done a lot of research into Turkish Baths from procedure to clothing options. Me and women have completely separate areas. Men are required to remain covered while the women's varies. We both only packed one pieces so we decided a panties and sports bra combo would be fine. We were right as there were a couple young women in bikinis but most of the grannies were topless (sorry about the image of topless grannies).

We booked ourselves for the works including scrub and massage. We undressed, wrapped in our towels and headed down to the bath. We did a few minutes in the excrutingly hot sauna, then a few in the hot pool, then we rinsed with a little cold water, tried to lay on the hot marble slab which was too hot, and back to the hot pool. We had just decided that maybe we needed to go tell them we were ready for our scrub and massage when the masseurs came in.

This is the traditional Turkish Bath that we chose

The took us to small room with two tables with plastic mats on them. They scrubbed the beejeezes out of us. Have you ever been peeling from a sunburn and when you rub it the skin sort of rolls into balls? That. Over our entire bodies. It was one of those things that hurt but then you think it must be good for you. They even did our faces. I am not sure what you are paying but I just had full body microdermabrasion for 15 Turkish Lira. After the scrub, there is a rinse then a full body massage. I have a pretty tough massage therapist back home and this was what she does ten times faster (so I am sure not as beneficial) and with a bar of soap. We were then rinsed with cold water dumped over our heads.

This is one of the baths from the outside, each circular room has something different - a hot pool, sauna, hot marble slab to lie on.

After we recovered from the shock of what we just went through, we dressed and headed out. We grabbed the usual Turkish fare. Oh, do not come here if you want to try flavors of the world. This is kebabs and only kebabs.

We did a tiny bit of walking around Yalova's produce market and caught our Seabus back home.

The produce market

Tonight, in honor of our last night here, I think we might drink some Raki.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Brined Turkey: When Was I On a Boat

On Wednesday when we got back to the hotel, I had a weird feeling I blamed it on being so tired. Yesterday I felt the same thing and stumbled as if I was drunk while brushing my hair.

It was similar to the sealegs phenomenon when you take a cruise. When you first get on the ship you feel every tip and tilt. After a day or so, you don't notice it anymore. When you get home and things are still, you actually feel like they are rocking.

As I laid in bed, I thought - why on earth would I feel like I've been on a cruise?

Oh, that's right! I've been on 1-3 ferries every day since Sunday.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Time for Turkey: We Did All Those Things

I was about to tell you that we had a day of perfect timing except that we just went down to the lobby at 9:58 and were told that the kitchen closed at 10:00 and we could have no food.

So today, I was the one who slept in until almost 9:00. This altered our plans a bit. We did the hospital shuttle - train - ferry into Istanbul. We hoofed it toward Topkapi Palace which was our last of the big three to be seen. We overshot the entrance to go the same Burea De Change that we used on Sunday.
A few steps back toward the Palace we ducked into a shop that was packed to the Gil's with stuff. The proprietor told us lots of jokes and made us laugh. One young girl ducked in to by something and when she asked her dad for the money, the shop owner laughed and said, "you sir, are just the bank. Men and like the bank for her and her (his daughter and wife), and to carry things like small camel. But happy wife means happy life." we both had a fun experience shopping and got what we were looking for. The shopkeeper pinned an evil eye pin on both of us saying that they were for the ladies to keep the bad ones away.

We toured Topkapi Palace and the headed over to the Grand Bazaar stopping to have lunch at the World Famous Pudding Shop. We aren't sure that 50 yrs later it still gets to be world famous but they had a nice lunch.

Some interior views of Topkapi Palace

We weren't feeling the Grand Bazaar and all it's shopkeepers with their smooth lines:
Don't you like me?
I have exactly want you want.
Now is time to see my shop.
Where are you from? Is it Germany? Then you need to buy a carpet.

 The Grand Bazaar

 This one is from the Spice Bazaar where I bought my husband a kilo of Turkish Delight

We decided that even though we had changed our plan we could still make a Bosphorous Cruise. The quickest way to the dock lead us through the Spice Bazaar where I bought some candy to take home (thank god they sealed it or I would be all over that). We were hoping there would be 5:15 cruise or we would be too late for our hotel bound transportation. As we approached the dock, I worked on converting 5:15 in my head. 17:15! Just as we got close enough to read the 17:15 on the schedule board I saw the dock attendant start to waive off the boat. We yelled to him and he pointed at the ticket counter signaling that is wasn't too late. We enjoyed a cruise up the Bosphorous and back. There are no guides to tell you what you are looking at but we saw some pretty views.
The Fortress of Europe from the Bosphorus

So then we reversed our morning route back to the hotel. Showered, called home and about 9:55 decided we were hungry.

Luckily, we had two Turkey pastries in our room that we bought yesterday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Turkey with Dressing: It's Comfortable

Yes Virginia, there is a luggage fairy.
So happy!

Last night was the first night that we both slept soundly. From about midnight to six, neither of us felt like we even rolled over.

After our usual breakfast- oh, I for got tell you about our usual breakfast. Let me divulge.
The hotel has a lovely breakfast buffet. There is cold cereal, pastries, fruit and also a hot portion. The odd things are: Everything on the cold side is sort of jumbled so that it goes fruit, vegetables, yogurt, salad, more fruit, cheese, meat then olives, cookies, tahini and a dark thick sauce that smells like balsamic, cereal and big bowls of jam with ladles. It's not that the food is odd so much that order makes you confused about what goes with what. The hot bar includes the soup of the day (tomato, broccoli and red lentil so far), eggs and hotdogs. Yes, the same hotdogs that graced our first evening sampler platter. Yesterday morning, Laura broke open one of her bread rolls to find a "surprise" hot dog.

Soup of the day, fruit, fired balls of mystery, sausage and simit (bagel)

After breakfast we took the hospital shuttle and had the driver drop us a few blocks early at Bostanci pier. We hopped a ferry to the Princes' Islands. (when I add pictures, I'll add links for more info). We walked down the shore and up the street and decided to take a carriage tour. No private vehicles are allowed on the island. The driver asked if we wanted the 45 min or 1 hr tour. We said one hour thinking that we would see more, but it turns out the carriage just goes slower. Also, like the shopping cart I never fail to get, the carriage was squeaky. Laura sat behind a horse with a different kind of the trots so we decided to name then Trooper and Pooper.
Buyukada, the largest of the Princes' Islands from the docks

The "beach" is not what we expected. It's really a ladder into the ocean. Also, this man has on water wings.

In our carriage. We got the squeaky one, just like my shopping carts.

That's Trooper on the left, Pooper on the right

I thought this house was so pretty. I love the evil eye set into it.

After our carriage ride, we did a little shopping. The prices on the island have to be fixed so no haggling. We thought the prices for the stuff that was wanted were fair so we bought a couple of things.

We took the ferry back and meandered to the shuttle stop picking up some Thai food that's currently in our fridge.

We came back to find our luggage waiting for us. Four days since we landed!

It's only 7 pm here but we are in our pjs. Clean pjs that weren't dried on the balcony.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Turkey Trot: Which Way Do We Go

1. Before you ask- no, we don't have our luggage.
2. I am a grade-A, international, public transport expert.

So despite being exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally, we both slept like crap. We got up at 4 am, read, watched tv, called home. Wide awake and it sucked.
This made us a get a late start and altered our plans. But behold, good news! The morning desk clerk (our favorite) said that a delivery company had called and confirmed the address. However, the driver said he only had one bag. Since the bags are separate, we didn't let this worry us. Maybe he would find the delivery ticket further down the stack, maybe it got put on a separate truck. We just felt positive that something was happening.

So it turns out that the hospital next door runs a shuttle during business hours to their clinic closer to Istanbul. It's also very near a trai stop. We hitched a ride on that then took our train, ferry combo into the city.

We headed right up to the Blue Mosque and arrived just I time for prayers. As we meandered about outside, a volunteer approached to tell us about a free presentation. On a smaller structure next to the mosque was a giant banner that said free event. While we could have been going to a human trafficking set-up, he did have an official volunteer badge and the building was part of the complex. I doubted the mosque would let traffickers hang banner willy-nilly.
The presentation, which they give regularly while the mosque is closed for prayers, had info about mosques in general, the Blue Mosque in particular and the Islamic faith. Most of it was review for us except for the details about the Blue Mosque. We both enjoyed the presentation, particularly the very matter of fact approach to presenting the information. The presentation was timed to coincide with the repenting of the mosque to the public.

Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

We then hopped a tram across the bridge to Galletta Tower. The brilliance in the location of the tower is that it is up a big hill. So after some huffing and puffing, we waited to take the elevator up. Now I did bring my "big camera" but wil my bag already being weighed down by my travel book, a bottle of water, etc, I just can't add it to the load. So the great views were wasted on my tiny point and shoot.
View of the Galetta Bridge from the Galetta Tower

After the tower, we tried to make it to Tunel to take the historic tram to Taksim Square. We got turned around several times thanks to a very nondescript area on the map. We finally found it and the token machine was out of order. Two other ladies said the driver had said there was one in Tunnel but we didn't know what that meant. We looked around and finally went to beg the next driver just to take our 2 lira. He said there was one in Tunnel and pointed to a very specific place. We found it, got tickets and headed out.

On the way we witnessed someone fall getting out of the way of the tram and had to stop for a bit. We finally arrived at Taksim Square and set out in search of an Indian restaurant that Laura's husband wanted us to try.
Well, we looked. Then we asked in Starbucks. Their directions yielded nothing. Then we asked in a liquor store. Their directions yielded nothing. Then we asked a hotel concierge. He didn't think there was one but gave us directions to where there might be one. So we popped in a nice looking restaurant to check out the menu. It looked like any restaurant back home. The manager spoke fluent English and said he had spent time in LA. He told us that it didn't hurt his feelings that we didnt like his menu. It was trendy to serve burgers and pizzeria in Istanbul he said. But it's rubbish. He asked us what we wanted to eat. We said local food but no more kebabs. He said kebabs were greasy and rubbish. He tried to give us directions to a really, really traditional place but we couldn't find it. So we gave up and went to an upscale kebab place. The food was good and overlooked a gated courtyard full of feral cats. As cat people we watched them interact like a soap opera.

All this running around left us in a position to be cutting our transportation cut-offs close. So we took the tram to the funicular(underground tram) to the ferry to the train and then caught a taxi.

Our taxi driver, Adof?, was adorable. He gave us gum. Then offered us a smoke which we emphatically declined. Once he introduced himself and asked our names, I tried to make small talk. He didn't know Kentucky or KFC so he called his friend who speaks a little English and handed me the phone. I thought maybe he had called the hotel for directions and was very confused. I kept yelling at his friend, "who am I speaking with? Where are you located?" I caught on when he said, "let me talk to my friend". Adof must have thought I was hot in my pink t-shirt and teal pants.

When we got back to the hotel we raced upstairs and guess what, no luggage! I called downstairs to see if they just didn't bring it up but no such luck.

Well, I gotta go wash my panties in the sink again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Too Much Turkey: Sweatpants

So today was a very lazy day but I think we are better for. We barely made the breakfast cut-off and spent most of the day reading, napping, lounging, etc. It got late enough that we decided to hang around the free wifi and Skype our husbands when they got up for work.

We got the fluent English speaking guest relations lady to call about our luggage again today. She strikes me as the kind of person who gets things done. She found out that they gave it to the delivery service today at 1:00. She said that while it could be delivered today, we should be prepared that we won't get it until tomorrow. This told us that it was time to find a mall. At Chris's suggestion, I googled malls and found Gebze Center.

The clothes here are borderline ugly to just plain ugly. There is also a surprising number of synthetic items for a country so hot. I got two soft t-shirts and had little luck finding pants in my size. We were looking for low prices rather than fashion since we would rather spend our money on something else. We found a store that while looking rather "young" had some deals for us. Laura got a cute dress and top. I bought a pair of jersey sweatpants (not too heavy)and a matching t-shirt.
We had dinner in the food court. A mixed kebab plate and some kind of seasoned bread that I am going to look into.

The mall we went to

Home Depot!

Today gave us a chance to recharge and tomorrow we face another hot day in Istanbul.

Turkey Jerky: Getting There

I am going to try to post while in Turkey from my iPad. It may suck, sorry. Also, that means no pictures yet. I'll add them later.

So, I am in Turkey with my friend Laura. We just got here two days ago and it's already been a real adventure. Let's begin.

Day 0&1: Getting Here Due to weather in Chicago, our first flight was delayed. We landed in Chicago just in time to run to our flight. Turkish Airlines had actually already bumped us, but rebooked us at the gate. The gate attendant told us that our bags would not have had time to make it on the plane with us. We did still manage to get seats together.

We arrived and went through the long customs and visa lines. We then went to the Turkish Airlines lost luggage office where we had to wait our turn. There were several other passengers from our flight there. Chicago's delays had created a lot of tight connections. We finally got that sorted and went to find our driver. He didn't speak any English but still scolded us for being late, like we could control that. It was our intention to change currency at the airport but the driver grabbed our bags and took off for the car.

The view from the cab

Our hotel is at least an hour from the airport. It's southeast of Istanbul on the Asian side. It's affiliated with a hospital (next door) and thanks to insider connections, let's just say that you can't beat the price. However, it's location is the reason for much adventure.

We got to the hotel, showered and put on our one change of clothes each (yes, we slept in them too). We walked around the hotel which is small and up the pretty path to the hospital to be nosy. We had dinner at the hotel. Laura had a kebab and I had a salad. I also ordered a "classic hors d'oevres plate." We expected a mezze plate but what we got was some hot dog pieces, onion rings, taquitos, and two fried mushrooms. (picture) After dinner, we turned in.

Our hotel - Anadolu Titanic Comfort Inn

Day 2: Lost and Broke in Turkey - I was also lost and broke in Ireland once so maybe it's a good idea not to travel with me. So the days starts in the clothes we slept in. Breakfast, which is included, was nice. We knew the hospital had a bank so we walked up to change some money (not technically broke, just no usable money). The bank was closed. We went to the front desk and asked were we could go to change some money. The desk guard called someone to translate. We asked them to get us a taxi to take us somewhere to change money. What we got was a cab driver who would take American dollars. We tried to explain that we wanted to go somewhere to change money.he just kept saying that he had to have an address. I showed him a ferry/train station that while not the closest, I thought would be substantial enough to warrant a bureau de change. When we finally got there ($45 Cab ride), we had decided it might be worth it to pay ATM fees in order to get enough to get I to the city and find a proper Bureau de Chnage. Luckily my book had a picture on an ATM, which FYI is a bankomatic. While we looked at 2 side by side to see if one had English (my book said they all should) we noticed one had an exchange button. It only took Euros but I had Euros! (Quick thank you to my mom for bringing back extra Euros from her cruise and giving them to my husband for some weird reason) So that got us enough to get the train.

We easily found the train to the Haydarpasa ferry station. While we tried to figure out where to get the ferry and young lady in hijab approached us and asked if she could help us. She worked as a tourist liaison at the Blue Mosque and could tell we needed help (the blue Ask Me shirt people, seriously nice kids so ask them if you visit Istanbul). Since we were going the same way she escorted us all the way to a Bureau de Change in the neighborhood of the Blue Mosque. She told us several sites to see and gave us this advice.

1. Water costs .50, they will try to sell it to you for 1.00 but say no. It is .50

2. A man will be nice and help you or tell you where to go and then he will try to sell you a carpet. (this gave us a good laugh)

My first lunch and the best meal I had on the whole trip

After we changed some money, we decided to go to a tour company that I had seen recommended online. After lunch, We got a nice guided tour of Hagia Sofi and the Basikica Cistern. (picture) We then walked around the outside of the Blue Mosque. We weren't going to go in because we knew it was closing soon and wanted more time. A man came up to us and said, "Ladies, the entrance is on that side but you better hurry because it is closing soon. Do you have scarves to cover with? They have some inside to use and you will have to take your shoes off or put plastic bags on them." We told him thank you and then he said, "I have a carpet store just over there." We were actually thrilled that we had first had experience of situation #2.

Hagia Sofia Outside

Hagia Sofia Inside (as seen in the new James Bond film)

Basilica Cistern - this is where the Ottomans stored water

After walking around a bit more we slowly made our way back to the ferry looking in shops and grabbing gyros to take back to the hotel. The dock is near the Spice Market so we looked inside for minute. My last day, I am hitting that place up for Turkish Delight and Helvas to go. No souvenirs for me, just candy.

Haydrapasa Station, where we switched from a ferry to a train

We got there ferry then the train. An elderly man on the train became concerned where we were going. We must look lost. I think it is because not many clearly very foreign, women tourists take the suburban train. We tried to tell him that we were confident about where we were going but he insisted on seeing our map. The train line has been shortened so we took it to the last stop. We thought about taking a bus but there never seem to be any bus maps so we decided to take a cab. Our new friend was concerned that a cab would cost too much and that we needed him to tell the cab driver where we were going. This is extra funny because he spoke no English. We showed him that we had the exact address of where we were going written down and he felt better and went about his way.

There was plenty of shopping near the Pendik station. Laura found a sun dress and we both bought pjs. We also found a small supermarket and bought some jugs of water and liquid antibacterial hand soap for our sink washing (everything else was too big). We went to the taxi stand and showed them the address. The next driver acted very unsure of where we going even though his buddies tried to explain. He asked if we spoke German, when we said only English, he said No problem, let's go. I said, how come if we speak German there was a problem. We tried to say several times that it was next to the hospital but he kept shushing us. I also tried to get him to call them but he said "after" which I think means after we got lost. Luckily, I saw the hospital from the motorway and said there. He insisted that I was crazy and there was no hotel but we still turned around all the way he was saying "this hospital, no hotel." I guess since its really for families of patients (big oncology department from the looks of the directory) not many locals no about it. Once we got to the hotel, he admitted that he was wrong and apologized and also told us that next time tell the driver the hospital and it would be easier.

While I showered Laura took her lost baggage info to the front desk and asked the nice young man to call and see if he could get an answer. He was on the phone for almost 1/2 an hour and did find out that our luggage is here but it wont be delivered until sometime tomorrow. So I'll be doing laundry in the sink.

We are going to sleep in tomorrow (hopefully my sink washing will dry) and try robe a bit more leisurely since we know the lay of the land. Tuesday we want to get up early for a boat tour.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cat Sanctuary 2012

The players:
Momma Cat
Her Kittens (3)
Smooshy Face
Big Tom
Other family (a momma with 3-4 kittens)
Mean Cat

Scene: Our house, exterior, back yard

So if you actually read my blog you will know that least year we had a cat, Mean Cat, bring her four kittens into our back yard. We captured 3 of the 4 kitten and took them to my uncles farm. We still see Mean Cat around the neighborhood but she avoids us and that's okay. That cat is mean.
This year, we come home to find Momma Cat and her 3 kittens in our back yard. Just like last year, I proceed to feed her and try to make friends so we can catch them. Unlike Mean Cat, Momma Cat is actually nice. She wants pats but at the same time hisses a lot because she is not sure that she trusts you. We had the cage out and everything but since the kittens weren't weaned, they were not interested in the food. Chris and I had to go out of town for over a week and I asked my mom to stop by and feed them. I guess Momma is suspicious of everyone but me and she moved the kittens.
We came home to just Momma cat. I decided to give it a few more weeks and then at least catch her, even if we have her spayed and released.
The next day Momma Cat is back with another adult cat that I call Smooshy Face. She has a very flat face, like Maru. She is super cute but not friendly. She was rubbing on Momma so I guess they are friends. I have just fed them when Chris looks out our bedroom window and sees another cat family behind our building. I haven't seen them since and hope they were just passing through.
Yesterday, a week since we got back home, Momma brought the kittens back. I went out and fed them. All 3 even went in the cage to eat (no Momma so I didn't trap them yet). While they were eating a big black Tom cat came by. He looked sort of beat up, like he fights, so I chased him off. Momma and family were here first.
Anyway, this is how my back yard turned into a cat sanctuary. I actually want to catch everybody soon because all the in and out is stressing our poor sick Boogie.

Boogie update: She had to stay at the vets the whole time away and that stressed her out. She lost .4lb which is a lot for her these days. We had went back to daily treatments after a vomiting spell and now we have gone back to every other day as long as her weight holds. She is still very happy and not in any pain. I think she is happy because she is getting spoiled. She sleeps in the bed, sits on the couch with no banky, and even though she can only eat her special cat food we follow her around the house with the bowl letting her eat wherever.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gluten Free - not so bad actually

So, I want to be upfront and say that I think my Dr. puts everyone on a gluten free, casein free diet. Unless you go in there and say, "I feel awesome, in fact, I have no idea why I am even at the doctor's to begin with." Otherwise, no gluten or casein for you. She does test for all common food sensitivities/allergies but if no other culprits show up then no gluten or casein for you. The thing is that after you get these orders, you feel good. Some people feel fantastic. (I just feel good but if you read my blog you know I have a lot of stress due to my kitty's renal failure and intensive care).
The trick is not to toss out your Oreos and just go to Whole Foods and buy gluten-free Oreos. You have to eat more unprocessed foods. Thats what makes you feel better. It's easier than I thought because most of the gluten free fake food is not very good (sorry fake oreos) and its expensive. No one really wants to pay $5 for a small box of not very tasty crackers. So, you turn to the stuff that is yummy. Fruits, vegetables, the gluten free grains like quinoa and rice. I am loving it. I know, weird.
I have been on crazy fad diets before. I did South Beach, Adkins, Sensa, some weird no salt thing. First of all, these were all horrible ideas because I was only trying to loose weights and diets don't work. (I have been over diets and trying to loose weight for a while now so this is not that kind of diet or related to loosing weight.) In all these cases, I would have cut a bitch for a slice of bread/pasta/cake/salt/etc. but since I went gluten and casein free I have not craved anything. Not even once.
Today no one is in the front office but me. If I have to work through lunch, I usually dictate that this means the company buys me lunch and that lunch is chicken strips and blizzard from the DQ next door. You know what I had today? A salad. With Tuna. That is all. Do I wish I could have chicken strips and a blizzard (previously in my top five favorites)? No, not even a little. I am the first person to tell you that I am shocked, SHOCKED, about this. I can't eat any of my previously favorite foods (except wine and dark chocolate, thank the gods) and it doesn't bother me one bit. I have trouble actually accepting this reality. I do see it as a sign that this diet (diet as in what you eat is your diet. Mine is gluten free, casein free and omnivorous) is what my body wants. I think about DQ and something inside me says, "Yeah, thanks for not eating that because that was why you felt like shit all the time." And this might be TMI, but I have had no gas. Seriously, and I eat roughage like kale every day.
Now why does being GFCF work any differently than not eating processed foods like a paleo diet. I am not sure it does. It might be psychological in that I can say, "that food will make me sick" as opposed to "I choose not to eat that." It also does not cut out a whole genre of food. I can have carbs, I can have sugar, I can have fat just not all the kinds of sugar, carbs and fat. I even eat things that some people consider "bad" for you like white rice and corn chips. But when you break down what I eat into the good ole food pyramid my servings of fat, sugar, carbs (and white rice) falls well below my servings of fruits and vegetables. And the thing I am trying to say is that I really want to eat more produce which to me feels like the biggest win of all.
Now, I am sure some people want to know if you will lose weight on a GFCF diet. If you ate a lot of junk and things that made you bloat before then probably. Chris says I look slimmer, but as I said before I don't care for weight loss diets so I don't weigh myself. Since my health issues were all inflammation related then I could just be less swollen. Who doesn't want to be less swollen? Some people with gluten intolerance will gain weight because they were experiencing poor absorption before. So if you think you should try this to lose weight then please don't, diets don't work. If you want to try it and see if you feel better then be my guest. But talk to your doctor first, and consider asking for food sensitivity tests. It would be a shame to give up gluten only to find out that soy is what is making you feel bad.
Oh, and now that I read a lot of restaurant allergens menus, soy is in freaking everything.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bird on a Feeder

My husband is an engineer. If you aren't familiar, engineers are know for being...quirky. My engineer in particular doesn't like to disappoint so he often find "substitutions" that to him sound like the same thing but I know they are not the same thing at all.
The other day when he went out to get something at the hardware store, I asked for a large bag of wild bird seed. The hardware store was closed so he went to a big box store. Once there, he could not find wild bird seed so he bought me a giant bag of cockateil food.
Last night after reading the ingredients out loud, I filled my three bird feeders. In minutes, two very surprised doves were on the ground eating what I spilled.
I imagined their conversation went something like this. (also, please read it in a cockney accent)

I wondered when they were going to top up the seed. I have been watching this spot for a week..holy shit, are these banana chips!?!

What? There are no banana chips here. OMG, I think this is a split pea.

Do they still call them spilt peas when they are whole? I mean, is any pea which is split in half a split pea?

What? What kind of question is that? It is a special kind of pea which is split. I think it grows in halves.

In halves? If it grows in halves isn't it growing in whole, and its whole just looks like a half. How does something grow in halves, you ninny!

Well, I am just saying that is grows in a shape which is half of the shape of a pea that is not characterized as a "split pea"

I don't think I can be friends with you any more.

Fine then.


You know if you eat a bit of thistle and papaya at the same time its quite nice.

Oh yes, it is quite nice.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Are Raccoons Dangerous?

My husband is from the city. The big city. The largest city in his country, to be exact. This means he doesn't know about a variety of subjects that someone who grew up on a farm knows about.

We were living in my parents basement while we looked for a house. Chris had only been gone for 5 minutes and I was just falling back asleep when my cell phone rang. I am sure I said, "Jesus." Because that's generally what I say. I answered.
"Are raccoons dangerous?"
"What? Why?"
"There is one here in the garage."

This was actually, sort of, my fault. I had come in late from dance class and my parents had left the garage door up and light on so I could see. It is freaking dark where they leave.
I noticed that the dogs biscuits were turned over and really hoped that the dog had done it or they had been knocked over on accidents, but just in case the chupacabra was still around I ran in and put the door down. So, I in my infinite scaredycatness gave the raccoon a safe, warm place to sleep.

After we go the raccoon out, we surveyed the damage.
He pooped on my husband's car.
Took all the DVDs out of a box of DVDs that came out of my mom's car. He had already seen Finding Nemo.
He played with a toy tractor.
And tried to weed eat but broke the handle off trying to get it started.

Find the purple ball, now look right.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Dream of Twitter

So last Monday night was a rough night in terms of sleeping. It was our last night on our old mattress (Yay for the new Tempur-pedic). We build a new headboard that fell off the wall and onto our heads at 3:30 AM. I had to get up at 5:30, to be at a training class at 7:30 which was 45 minutes away. Basically, all the forces of getting a good nights sleep were against me. And boy did I have some crazy dreams. Specifically, I dreamed of Twitter. It was a party and all the cool kids were there.

I don't remember when I joined Twitter, and I am too lazy to look. I remember my friend Laura said that we should get on Twitter and I did. I don't think any of my other friends, including Laura, stuck with it. I actually liked being on Twitter and engaging people all over the world on topics from HR to bellydance. The next thing I knew, I was having conversations with some pretty cool people who lived in my town. Then I was at a pub crawl dressed in a Snuggie. Drinking in a Snuggie is awesome! If you have not tried it, I am both shocked and demanding that you add it to your bucket list.

This snow balled in to a series of social events with some really awesome new friends that I would have never met had it not been for Twitter. Just as I was getting into the groove of hanging out with my Tweeps, the unthinkable happened - we moved!

Now you are thinking that since Twitter is on the interwebs then moving would be fine because you would still Tweet. Yes, in theory. Except I felt left out. I made one Tweep in my hometown, where I moved to, and he even brought me a diet coke once during a particularly long appointment at his place of employment. Still things just weren't the same. So a I Tweeted less and less, and then not at all. (Except my automatic blog posts and 4sq).

So then, last Monday night, I had a dream. Chris and I were in a random house looking for a party that we had been invited to. It was almost like a party quest. What television has led me to believe one must go through to find a rave. Purchase a pickle at the gas station on the corner of 4th and Vine, pay only in nickels. That sort of thing. Anyway, this quest led us to the most expensive neighborhood in town. To a particular house, where would get the final invite. Once we arrived, sitting at the kitchen table and tweeting were several of my tweeps. For some reason, in my dream, it was important that they did not recognize me until I messaged them and got them to say that I was "in". I really have no idea why because that was the exact moment when the cushion fell out of my new DIY headboard and hit me on the head.

So I am back Twitter, I missed you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Update: Squatty Potty

The Daily What featured this video today.  

Part One: Here
I had actually ordered the plastic Squatty Potty when the nice people over at SP HQ offered to send me one. I told them I had ordered the plastic as a starter model (and because the low price would help convince Chris that it wasn't a horrible idea) but hoped to love it and one day upgrade to the bamboo. They sent me the bamboo! I was surprised and happy. It does look a lot nicer and I actually think the slight angle makes it more comfortable than the plastic. I moved the plastic into our guest bath and put some of the brochures they sent me on the back of the toilet so guest would know what was going on. I am also going to take info to my chiropractor, massage therapist and doctor.
My mom was our first visitor to go into the guest bath and say, "what is this?" I showed her what it was and how it worked and she seemed to be genuinely interested in the benefits, which made me happy.
So what do I think of the Squatty Potty?  I like it. If you are really inflexible it can be hard to get your knees up. Chris let me put yoga bricks under the Squatty Potty and he slides them out and puts his feet on those until he can increase his flexibility. I actually think it makes sitting on the toilet more comfortable on your rear. I am glad that I got one and think Chris is warming up to it. I think the fact he is trying to be flexible enough to use it all the time, speaks volumes. He obviously sees the great benefit to squatting. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Birds

Rocky, our office cat, just brought a live bird into our office. It's probably the office managers fault. She told him to get them because they are pooping on our cars. Well, he listened.
I heard her yell, "Rocky, no!" I assumed he was running out the open front door not returning through it. He immediately came around the corner to my office. Once I realized there was something in his mouth, I expected a mouse before my brain could register bird. I yelled at him to put it down. It flew all around and he caught it again. We finally got him to drop it and it flew into the front office, hit a window and fell behind a desk. I grabbed killer and tossed him in an office, closing the door. We shooed the bird out and flew away looking remarkably uninjured.
Rocky sulked around the place trying to find what we did with his prize. He also got his first flea of the new year for his trouble.

Just call him killer.

Whenever something crazy happens like this no one is around to see it. Who says working in an office is boring?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Squatty Potty

So I had been talking about 10 minutes about the benefits of squatting when Chris finally turns to me and says, "What the hell kind of blogs have you been reading?" Chris doesn't mind most of my hippy dippy wellness ideas but he draws the line at having his bathroom routine disturbed.
I am big fan of Katy's blog over at Aligned and Well. She is helping me lengthen my leg muscles (so is my massage therapist). Katy says that I (and most everybody else) need to do two things that most of us don't do enough of,  walk and squat. There is a lot more to it than that so go read her blog.
Well, I am intrigued by all this and have already got Chris and I on a routine of much more walking (it takes 15 minutes to do our neighborhood including cul-de-sacs) and I wanted to work on squatting. Now squatting is lacking from our routines because people used to "have a squat" all the time. Hint, hint. But now we sit, which is unnatural. So while I was practicing squatting in my living room, I was still sitting in the place that I should be squatting - my bathroom. Then, three times this week I was confronted with the concept of the Squatty Potty. It's a foot stool, that gets your feet up so that you are essentially getting into a squat position while you are on the toilet.
When I told Chris I wanted one, it prompted his comment about my blog choices. I did point out how it tucks under the bowl so he won't be forced to use it, and I think he felt better about things.
Here is the Alignment Monkey's review and giveaway of a Squatty Potty. I entered, but if I lose I will be ordering one anyway.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lent and Giving

So, I don't do lent. But then I sort of do. It's complicated.

I don't actually do lent because well, I am not religious. But I find the concept of lent and the pre-determined time period beneficial for things I want to do so I use it to my advantage.

For the past 4 years, on Ash Wednesday I have emptied my bank account. I don't mean going on a bender at Pier 1; I mean that I transfer the complete balance to my saving account. Then throughout the period of lent, I don't spend anymore than I have too. Four years of this and I have it pretty much down.

  • I still buy people birthday presents
  • I uphold prior social commitments
  • I don't turn down new ones but I rain in the spending on them (one drink at happy hour, no popcorn at the movies, etc) - I would turn down above average dates like a concert or something with expensive tickets
  • I pay all my bills
  • I buy all the same groceries that I would before even treats like ice cream
  • I still participate in dance workshops - though no buying from vendors once I get there
  • I still let my regular automatic deductions into savings and retirement take place
Lent is also a good time to do this because most people won't give you any grief when you say, "sorry I am not spending any money during lent." 
When Easter rolls around I look at what cushion has built up in my checking account and I donate it to charity. More specifically, I donate it to Donors Choose which helps teachers get supplies they needs for their classrooms. I have really enjoyed working with Donors Choose and in the past my donations have purchased books, molecule model kits, recycling containers and tennis rackets. A few weeks after the project is funded the class sends thank you letters which always makes me cry.

Now, my point in sharing this is not for you to think I am just awesome. I assume that you thought that already. I just really like doing this and think it is a good idea and want to pass is around.

Don't think you can save enough to make a difference? Most charitable organizations will tell you they are happy to get any donation no matter how small. At Donors Choose, you can sort projects by how much money they still need to complete their funding. As I write this, there is a library project that only needs $27 to be funded.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Your Best Girl

On the dry erase board on the back of our door, the one where we intend to leave ourselves important notes, it says, "Boogas is your best girl." No doubt.

Boogas (Snoopy) went into the kitty hospital last Friday. She is almost 17 years old and was experience kidney failure. We didn't know it until it was very late and she was already very dehydrated. She has been there since Friday and receiving IV fluids. The vet did not seem optimistic at first, but is now surprised about how well she is doing. The thing is that we can't get back any of those 17 years or any kidney function that she has lost. They were doing more tests today so we can know how much kidney function she has left. I am just happiest that she isn't in any pain and she gets to come home and be with us. 
She came home on Monday and every day I have to give her an injection in the morning and Chris gives her a sub-cutaneous fluid treatment in the evening. The IV needle is huge and you have to stick hard. I hesitate which I know only makes it worse which is why he has to do it.
We go back to vet tomorrow for follow-up blood work and to see if she is improving.
Until last Friday when we got the diagnosis from the vet, I had never seen my husband cry. While Snoopy has been my faithful companion and best friend for over half of my life, Chris has known her for more than half of hers. "I never knew I could love a kitty so much," he said. Indeed.