How I left my abuser. 

Another time I’ll tell how I met him, why I stayed, what I was thinking, etc. But today I want to share how I finally left. It was a moment of great pride for me, and the first time I had felt strength in ages. 

I believe the one key piece to breaking away successfully is that you have to have TRUE BELIEF in your  decision to finally be done. 

What finally allowed me to break free was a set of affirmations I repeated to myself daily for a while before doing it, until it didn’t feel like a dragon was going to leap out of my heart through my mouth. 

I said: 
“I will not be abused anymore. I won’t allow you to continue to do this to me because I have self worth. I do not deserve to be hurt, pushed, pulled, strangled, beaten, left in the middle of nowhere with no money, or to have guns pulled on me for fun, accused of cheating on you while I’m working, or any of the other countless things you’ve said and done. 

I am finished hiding my bruises and scars -physical AND mental. I’m putting them out for the world to see, and they may ask you. You can answer as you wish, but you will not slander me or create drama. Luckily this will be easy for you because I’ve already cut ties with everyone who usually schemes with you to get me to come back. My suggestion to you is to get help. Take it or leave it, but I am past caring and will NOT change my mind if you do.

I’m finished. You’re finished. We. Are. Totally. Permanently. Finished.”
I then tossed the fake engagement ring he gave me in his lap (turned my finer green!) unlocked the door from the drivers side by reaching over him, and pushed him out of the car. He ended up on his butt on the curb. Literally and absolutely kicked him to the curb. I sped off. 

There is so much more to this story; this is like a quick scene in a movie. It’s a flash of memory for a proud, strong moment at the end of three years of hell. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of his entanglement in my life, but it was the end of the relationship. 

More to come!

Skin care: a product review and a little education thrown in. 

What!? It’s been forever! I know. I apologize. Life has gotten in the way of writing, but this year I am trying to write more again, and will be picking back up this blog as well as my blog for gardening and urban farming things. 

Those who’ve read my blog for a while know I’m passionate about skincare. I almost went to medical school and became a dermatologist, and would have likely wanted to do plastic and reconstructive surgery as well. No joke! Instead, I became an accountant for a Fortune 500 company, and skincare remains a side passion. Someday, I’ll take some reduced hours and go to aesthetician school so that I can dabble in my skincare love in a more direct way, and help others to love their skin as I’ve learned to do. 

Before I go into the review, let me tell you a little about my skin. As a teenager, I had acne. Not only was it on my face, but I had it on every single part of my body. Fingers, toes, legs, backs of knees, inside my elbows, in my hair, my neck, my belly, my groin, my butt, my neck, behind my ears… These were bad enough. I wore turtlenecks and two layers of tights every day  under everything. In San Diego. Year round. I would be sweltering in the heat and refuse to take off my turtleneck because I was so embarrassed of my skin. Worst of all was the horrific cystic acne on my back and chest, in my armpits and over my entire trunk. It was painful – even hugs hurt! – and humiliating. I didn’t change in locker rooms, I avoided changing in front of friends, was careful about going shopping or to the beach or anywhere I would have to strip down. I spent my life covering my skin in layers of thick clothing to hide the lumps. 

On the flip side, at home I slathered my skin in baby oil and laid in the yard in a bikini to attempt to dry out the acne. I was on many, many prescriptions, both topical and systemic. I tried antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide (HIGHLY allergic!) and every other wash, lotion, potion, serum, wipe, pill and vitamin. 

Finally at age 17, after I had just graduated from high school, my dermatologist suggested Accutane. I was headed to college, and the medication requires careful monitoring, so he sent me with instructions to see a doctor at the student health and ask for accutane. They denied me and told me my acne “wasn’t bad enough.” I was devastated and tears were brewing. The doctor then paused and asked if I also had body acne. I said yes and he peeked down the back of my shirt and said, “oh Honey, you NEED Accutane.” I was on the highest possible dose for the longest course available at the time: six months. 

My lips cracked first. Then I began to flake. The corners of my mouth were shredded and it hurt to eat. My skin hurt all over due to dryness, something I had never experienced before. I was flaking EVERYWHERE. My skin was cracked and sore no matter how hydrated I was. I found Bag Balm one day and covered myself, head to toe. It was bliss. I also discovered I could apply lotion to my scalp – who knew that dry scalp could be helped with lotion!?! Certainly not I. 

During this first course of treatment, I got heat stroke. I didnt fully realize the risks of sun exposure while on the medication, and I had been tanning my whole life. I was lying next to the pool where my roommate was a lifeguard, and I suddenly felt really sick. I was shaking, trembling, felt strangely cold despite the 105* day. I was nauseated and felt weak and flushed, and then hot and cold began to alternate. I felt like I had the worst flu of my life, times ten. I went to the bathroom and couldn’t vomit. I couldn’t pee. I felt weird and like I had been drinking heavily and things weren’t very real or solid. The world spun and tilted. 

I told my roommate I needed to go home, and she left me sitting on the corner in a shady spot while she went to get the car from the large parking lot beyond the pool. It took her about ten minutes, and two pedestrians and two drivers stopped to ask if I was ok, if I needed help, and if I needed an emergency room ride or for them to call an ambulance. I must have looked horrible! I was in the middle of a major college campus, not in a small town. For people to stop was strange. For that many people to stop was unheard-of. 

My roommate took me home. Neither of us realized how serious it all was, so I took an aspirin, drank a glass of water, and went to bed. I passed out for at least six hours, and woke after dark feeling weak and shaky but much better. Knowing better now, I’m aware that I had heat stroke and should have gone to emergency for rehydration. I was very, very lucky I woke up from that nap with no real harm done. 

I finished my course of accutane and my skin looked great for a few months, and then began to get worse again. This time I saw the dermatologist again right away and they put me on another high-level, long round. They told me it was exceptionally rare for anyone to need more than one round, especially at the high dose. This time I got more side effects. Joint pain was miserable – especially in my ribs. Every time I took a breath, I felt like I was breathing with broken ribs. My joints in my hands hurt, and my knees and ankles, my back, hips, shoulders. It was painful. More importantly, I was also depressed. Severely. The depression is a story for another day, but it has since been added to the known side effects of accutane in a black box warning, as many people have completed suicides while on accutane. At that time, however, we didn’t know. I joined support groups and took medications. Ten years after the end of my third round of accutane, almost to the day, the depression lifted as if by magic. I’ve never had it since. Those ten years were tough, to say the least. 

My third round of accutane was about five years later, in my early-mid 20’s as my skin started to break out again! The dermatologist told me that not only was three rounds medically questionable, as it hadn’t been studied, it was just plain dangerous and he was concerned, but that if this time didn’t work, there was nothing else. So he extended the time period and increased the dose to what I recall as double the highest dose. I had to re-explain to the pharmacist every time I got it filled, as it was so unusual. 

Sadly, a few years later my skin began to break out again. Considerable testing revealed high testosterone levels, and the new dermatologist put me on an androgen blocker, at a very high level – as high as or higher than many transwomen! It worked!! I’m still on it today, and if I ever run out, my skin immediately breaks out horribly. So I stay on the hormone blocker and my skin is happy. 

All those rounds of accutane left me with exceptionally dry skin. It killed most of my sebaceous glands –  even those in my eyes. I have dry eyes, dry mouth, peely, flaky dry skin. So I am very cautious with my skin. Dry skin ages faster than oily. It has less bounce and shows wrinkles more. It’s thinner. It can be fragile. I cannot shower every day, or even every other day. My full shower is twice a week, and VERY fast with layers of moisturizer on my damp skin afterward. In – shower lotion, the prescription lactic acid lotion, then shea butter cream, then a custom blend of highly moisturizing oils, then a flannel nightgown to protect my sheets and allow it all to absorb overnight. I also oil my hair and only wash it 1-2 times every 3 weeks. It gets more and more dry between washes, so I add oil and condition it periodically in between, I moisturize my scalp, and I never use shampoo with detergents – always conditioner or “co-wash.”

And now for the product review portion of this post. 

This is an extremely long review, but I wanted to break down why this is truly a five star product, and talk about every ingredient and why it’s there, as well as explain what the active ingredients do in layman’s terms, but based on actual science, not rumor. For those who don’t understand why we use certain ingredients in skincare, this is intended to help. I get questions about my skin frequently, and want to really break it down.

I love vitamin c creams and serums in general. They brighten the skin, plump up fine lines, fade age spots, etc. If you don’t understand why it works, toward the end of this review I will post an explanation of free radicals and antioxidants and what they do.
I was provided a discount on Essa Vita-C Whip (Amazon link, non-affiliate) in order to try it. The Vita-C Whip is smooth, soft, and hydrating. The whipped consistency makes it easy to apply without overusing the product, so a little goes a long way. I feel like with some serums I am forever rubbing-in excess onto half my body, as there is so little control over how much you use at once.

It smells delicious – like a very mild orange scent, but natural orange as if you’ve just cracked open a clementine, not that chemical fragrance orange.

My skin looks amazing! The picture below is without ANY face makeup on – eyes and lips only. I’m 43 years old, for frame of reference. Before discovering vitamin c, my skin looked dramatically older! The picture below with the shorter hair was at age 32, 11 years ago. I looked older then, than I do now. I attribute this to vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, primarily, with help as well from retinol and very high quality humectants and moisturizers.

 age  43, no face makeup other than undereye concealer and moisturizer/sunscreen
age 43, no face makeup other than undereye concealer and moisturizer/sunscreen


Age 31, no face makeup
Age 31, no face makeup
I want to talk about the ingredients in the whip. Purified Water is first. We need to add moisture to skin before we seal it in. Most skincare products begin with water to hydrate. Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is a form of vitamin c that’s fat-soluble, making it easier to absorb into skin’s lipid barrier. Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is a specific coconut fatty acid, which is extracted without fractionating (this is a good thing) and helps to moisturize and plump skin. Cyclomethicone and Dimethicone give it a little “slip” and smoothness on the skin, making it feel nice, texturally, and absorb leaving a soft finish. Cetyl Alcohol is a fatty alcohol – another moisturizer! Glyceryl Stearate is a compound of glycerin and stearin acid that makes a fatty texture which is used to help the lotion smooth into your skin. PEG-100 Stearate is another emulsifier. When combined with Glyceryl Stearate, the two stabilize one another and the product as it is emulsified, so you don’t get that separation into oils and water. Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract – all self explanatory and all have antioxidant properties, which I’ll talk about below. Retinyl Palmitate is a man-made vitamin A, which is an antioxidant as well, but when applied to the skin in this form, it converts to Retinol, and then to retinoic acid, the primary active ingredient in the widely-used prescription retin-a, which aids in turnover of skin cells, revealing fresher skin over time. Tocopheryl Acetate is a topical form of vitamin e, Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant: it attracts water to its molecules and pulls it in, plumping the cell, and then holding onto the water. Glycerin is also a humectant, but doesn’t hold onto the moisture, but picks it up and puts it down, so it requires some “sealing” with the fatty stearates above that provide the barrier. Xanthan Gum is a stabilizer and thickener. Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP is another thickener. Copolymer, PEG -12 Glyceryl Dimyristate and PEG-23 Glyceryl Distearate are more fatty acids that help to retain the moisture barrier. Disodium EDTA is a chelator, used to inactivate any metallic compounds and reduce possibility of allergic response. Citrus Nobilis is the oil of the skin of a type of honey orange. It’s a natural fragrance. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative, which allows the product to not go rancid, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol used together are also preservatives.
I love that this has NO Sulfates, Pthalates, Parabens, or Formaldehyde

I promised a bit more about free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals are simply molecules with an electron missing. They’re looking to bond with another molecule in order to replace that missing electron. This process is called oxidization, and it’s a natural and normal process. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Guess what is also oxidation? Rusty metal.  The problem is that when these molecules steal an electron from a healthy skin molecule, they leave it damaged. So an air pollution (smog) molecule is wandering around, snatches an electron from your face in order to balance itself out, and now your skin is missing an electron. Times billions. And it’s not just smog. Toxic food ingredients, chemicals, radiation, second hand smoke, and so many more are all attacking our skin constantly. This is commonly known as environmental aging.

Anti-oxidants are very special molecules which can give away an electron without being hurt, themselves. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant. Applied to the skin, it encounters the free radical molecule, hands over its electron, and off goes the free radical without damaging your skin. Remember that in this Vita-C-Whip there are multiple antioxidants: Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Grape Seed Extract as well as vitamins C, E, and retinol, the version of vitamin A.

Antioxidants are a critical step in skin care.

After cleansing skin and applying any toner or water-consistency treatments – I use niacinamide (vitamin B) spray and hyaluronic acid spray, apply serums such as hyaluronic acid in a slightly thicker form, vitamins, stem cell serum, or any other serums you may prefer.

Next, use slightly viscous or thicker liquid products such as an undereye serum, tone corrector for age spots, or other treatments in a thin liquid.

Continue with your thicker liquids, always layering thinnest consistency first, or in case of equivalent consistency, put on the item with more active skincare ingredients in it first. This is when you would use the Vita-C-Whip. For those who are lower-maintenance about skincare, this would be immediately after cleansing and toning.

Next apply a skin oil or cream if you need further hydration in nighttime, or sunscreen during the day.

It takes about thirty days to see a truly dramatic difference with vitamin c, but age spots and hyper pigmentation can begin to lighten right away and you may notice a change in just a few days.
I was provided a discount in order to test and review this item.

Racism. I’m sick of it. Absolutely done.

NOTE: racist posts full of offensive words for/about particular groups of people will be deleted immediately. You have the right to be an asshole, idiot, redneck, sheep-fucking, sister-marrying piece of crap, but you don’t have the right to do it in MY BLOG!! Period. Your comments will be deleted. Get yourself your own blog and spew your idiocy there.

Back to the post:

What is currently happening in Ferguson, MO is widely known. If you don’t know about it, you’ve either been on a sequestered jury or purposely had your head in the sand at this point.

I’m tired of hearing these stories over and over. I’m tired of police brutality. I’m tired of grown men being scared of little boys because on average adults of all races estimate black males to be at minimum two years older than their non-black peers. This has huge consequences when it comes to assuming a 10 year old child is a 12 year old adolescent/teen and making a decision on how to react to normal ten year old silly antics that most boys pull at that age. “Rasslin'” and rough-housing of two buddies is suddenly called into 911 as a gang war. Police react accordingly and somebody’s little boy is dead because he was playing and didn’t hear the cop yelling to freeze. Just one example.

We should be working together, not one against each other, to re-tear down the master’s house and get rid of his rules once and for all. It will take time, but enough of us are angry enough now that I believe MAJOR change is just within our reach. But we need to all team up to get it done. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to fix the problems that are destroying our safety and sense of community.

I have made a pledge to multiple friends and I will make it to my public page here as well:

Continue reading “Racism. I’m sick of it. Absolutely done.”


For those who still have me on their reader list despite my long absence, here is a fast version of major life events since my last real posts in 2010.

1. My “heart cat” Calvin died suddenly in Summer 2011. He developed sudden liver disease and despite a week in the hospital and multiple surgeries, he did not make it. I still miss him tons.

2. We bought a house in august 2011. My dad was super excited to be a part of the process as our “professional expert” and voice of reason. We bought a home with about 8000 sqft of land, so it’s just big enough to make it a small urban farm, and we’ve spent much of the last three years making that dream happen. Still a long ways to go, but I’ll be starting up another blog at for the urban farming stuff if you are interested. A few pictures of the house from early spring as well are below.

3. My little bro got married the day after we closed on the house. That was a happy week in our family. My sister in law is a good balance for my brother, and it’s nice to see him so happy and centered.

4. My dad died December 21, 2011. He stuck around long enough to see his kids settled into their lives and then I think he decided he was done fighting so hard. It’s the most devastating thing I’ve ever been through. I miss him every single day, and I’ll write more about my thoughts and experiences at a later time.

5. My brother and his wife bought a house about two miles from ours in February 2012, and announced they were expecting. They had been trying for a long time, so this was a very big deal. I have no idea if my dad was able to influence that happening in any way from wherever he is now, but I’m sure that if he could have, he would have, because he wanted grand kids more than anything, and would have been an exceptional grandfather.

6. We got conned into another cat. Vinnie Van GoghGo is a one-eared, heart-nosed 25 lb nutjob who was thrown from a car on the freeway and rescued. He has two thumbs on each front paw and can use them opposably. No kidding. He can get into everything and we have child locks on all cabinets or else he will help himself to food and treats and whatever else he can find. He is extremely food-motivated and will do anything for a treat. His former owners taught him to sit up and beg. That was what got us. He say up and begged at us when we were saying we couldn’t take him. Sigh. I’ve taught him to shake paws. He is apparently half dog. He has his own YouTube channel, and is quite the ham.

7. My niece was born 11/27/12 and is the light of my life. Her expressions are so much like my dad’s sometimes, and she has his eyes, which is pretty cool. I love that little girl more than life.

8. I had major spinal surgery in December 2012 due to the disease I have. The disease created new bony growth which interfered with normal function and caused a disc to blow out into the nerve root as well as the spinal cord. The osteophyte (new bone spur) was in danger of severing the nerve root where the nerve exited to my left arm. It was essentially en emergency as I had lost all involuntary reflexes in that arm and had numbness, tingling in my hand and severe pain in my neck and shoulder. Surgery went well, took about 8 weeks to heal, though I went back to work after four weeks (which in hindsight was stupid!) I feel a ton better now but do have a bit of permanent damage as well as donor bone and a titanium plate in my neck.

9. Work is still work for me. A couple of promotions and I’m fairly happy, though I’m aware I’d make 150% or more of my current salary by going elsewhere. It’s hard to give up the five weeks vacation a year and other benefits that come with long-term seniority, though.

10. My husband is no longer with Child Protective Services. After 20+ years, it was time to be done with being on call 24/7 and being in crisis mode 100% of the time. The stress was killing him. He now works for the county, in the court system, supervising those who advocate for kids whose families are struggling with substance abuse. They work hard to make sure the kids’ best interests are represented to the courts.

11. I’m on a new combination of treatments that are really making a huge difference for my autoimmune disease, though I’ve collected a new one since we last spoke – diverticulitis. I’m not the typical at-risk person for diverticulitis, as I eat lots of fresh raw produce and high fiber, low inflammatory foods, and not a McDonalds eater. It’s the opinion of my doctor that one medication we tried may have caused it, as it can be a very rare side effect for some people. It was horrible at first, but has become manageable as long as I eat properly (not an issue) and don’t get over-stressed (working on it.)

12. We are making a big life change. Huge! The biggest! More detail on that coming very soon.

Here are a few pics of the house and yard. The first is when we bought it. The ornamental plum in front had been butchered so we had to remove it. The other pics are from late this spring. I’ll take some updated pictures tomorrow as the garden is in riotous bloom and growth for summer.




Quitting when you’re ahead – a message to those who catcall people on the street.

Last week I had Jury Duty. It was interesting in some ways, great in others, and horrible in yet others. I will tell a few stories here over the next few days to get myself back in the habit of blogging.

This is from an email I wrote to a friend last Wednesday:

A weird thing happened on the way home from jury duty. I was walking to the bus stop and passed a group of older-than-me-but-not-old homeless men. One of them called out, “hey, you with the hair! [I’ve been wearing it long and in my naturally curly state, and gone back to red color. It stands out.] You are SO fine! You’re beautiful!” To which I smiled and said thank you. That may have been a mistake, but I always thank a person for a sincere compliment.

He went on again and said something else about me being this or that (didn’t quite get the words but it was essentially a repeat of the previous sentiment but in slightly less socially-acceptable terms, but not offensive either. Just something about being hot and “damn” and such.) at this point I’m thinking “well. That was nice. Haven’t heard one of those in a few years. Guess I’m having a good appearance day.” I felt pretty good. You just don’t get told you’re hot out in public much once you’re over 35 or so.

And then the kicker… He says “you so fine if you were my woman I’d drown you. Yep. Drown you. (Long pause) With my loooooooove. Next time I see you I’m getting your phone number. You better not be married!”

I didn’t respond to anything after the original “thank you,” and ignored his dumb ass and walked to my bus stop with him yammering about drowning me over and over as he walked past the bus stop with his buddies.

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?? DUDE. Pretty sure that’s the weirdest catcall I’ve ever experienced. Maybe the creepiest, too.

I went from a “hey, cool, I still look good” moment to a “what just happened there?” in less than a second.

I don’t agree with catcalling in general and usually ignore it. However, in this case it started as a well-mannered, sincere compliment that absolutely deserved a thank you in return.

Generally in situations where women explain to (usually) men how demeaning catcalling is, we also tell them that to pay a true compliment in a respectful tone is a different thing than a “hey baby blah blah blah” you know? So you don’t want to discourage the good ones either. It was a little bit sad because at one point he was definitely ahead.

Life lesson: when you compliment a stranger on the street and they smile and thank you, quit while you are ahead and don’t get all creepy on them.

For reference, here’s what I was wearing that day. Harassment doesn’t only happen to skinny girls in short skirts.


Jury Duty

As I begin my third time at Jury Duty, I’m moved to repost my private journals of my first experience.

This was first posted to my private journals in 2006. It’s going to be very long.

The short version: I was juror #14 (second alternate) on the double-homicide trial for a man named Thomas Marshall. He was the defendant in the shootings that took place at the Southcenter Mall in 2005. For those who don’t remember the case or are not in the area, here is the link.

As an alternate, I did not end up deliberating, but I do agree with the decision that was made in the case. It was the same decision that I would have made, based on the evidence presented.

Day One
Continue reading “Jury Duty”

Happy Holidays

Today after work, husband and I went to Target with a long wish list from a local womens shelter.

We got a minimum of one (and as many as 6) of each and every thing on the list. They’ll be able to make multiple gift bags for multiple women from our $100 shopping.

Here is the list we were given as a wish list:
Gift or phone cards ($5 or $10)
Bus tickets
Collapsible umbrellas
Night eye masks and ear plugs to make shelter living easier
Fun pieces of jewelry
Toiletry items (deodorant, disposable razor, hair products (African American hair products always requested) tissues, chapstick)
Puzzle books with a pen or pencil(crossword puzzles, Sudoku)
Daily planners or pocket calendars, inspirational books or quotes
Hot tea, cider, or hot chocolate packets
Microwaveable popcorn, granola bars, or small bags of snacks
Throw Blankets

So many of these items are $1 at places like Target. It made it exceptionally easy.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have gifts to give and receive should all consider giving the equivalent of one extra gift (in cash or goods) to someone in need. Youth shelters need MASSIVE help right now. So do food banks. Don’t forget pet food for the animal shelters too. And if you have no money, give an hour of your time to help sort others’ donations. I promise you will be glad you did.

The ultimate gift to me would be for my whole family to spend a few hours together, helping to make someone else’s day a bit better. I think I’ll suggest it! Who’s joining me?

Better late than never

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I’ve written here.

2010 has been a very difficult year, and I’m fairly glad to see it on its way out. It’s mostly been health issues – one on top of the next – that have made it so tough.

The good news is that Dad is still with us. He beat Pancreatic Cancer.

Wait. Let me say that bigger and louder. MY DAD SURVIVED PANCREATIC CANCER. He has NO evidence of the disease, and is in the “1% Club.” Someday it will come back, but at this time, he is cancer free. That’s the best you can ever hope for with PanCan.

The treatment was horrendous, and he ended up in the hospital a couple of times, but he fought and he won. He officially got a clean bill of health in about September after a 6-week intensive course of 24/7 chemo via a pump, plus daily radiation, plus weekly “big” chemo. This was after an entire year of weekly chemo. He was beaten down, they took him to within inches of death, and brought him back.

What was equally amazing were the number of people who helped. I put out a message on a local news site and asked for volunteer drivers to help him to get to/from treatment daily (30 minutes from home for a 5 minute radiation appt!) and we had dozens of volunteers. Had to weed out a few weirdos, but not too many.

And now, he’s just gotten his first haircut. He’s almost good as new – still has to limit certain types of foods, as his stomach can no longer digest them. He’s got a bit of digestive damage from all the treatment, but it’s better than the alternative. So we’re very thankful.

I’m just now getting over the worst stomach bug of my life. 7 days of nonstop vomiting and diarrhea that only stopped for a few hours at a time when I went in to the ER or to see my doctor and got injections and IV fluids. It began much like a foodborne illness: Severe GI pain up high in my stomach (under the ribs) and then nonstop vomiting with diarrhea. The number of times I couldn’t deal with both ends at the same time were absolutely humiliating. By the end I simply wanted to die. I finally started to pray as I was throwing up one of the last times “Please make this go away – I can’t live through another day or more of it.” Something worked, because it finally stopped on Thursday afternoon. I had to wait 48 hours to eat, meaning it had been well over 2 weeks of nothing but pedialyte and jello when I began to try solids again. Holy COW I was hungry. I lost 20+ pounds in that week, and I’m just lucky I had it to lose.

Anyway, that’s all the health stuff. Tomorrow is my first day back to work after being so sick, and I’m hoping I have the strength to make it through the day. I’m still physically very weak and can’t walk super far. But I’ll manage. :)

More updates on everything else later.If I still have any readers left. Sorry I abandoned you all. I didn’t mean to — life just went sideways for a bit. I’m back now, though, and will get to writing again shortly.




Tortellini Casserole

Here’s a super quick and easy casserole-style dish you can make on the weekend and then divide up single-servings for lunches or dinners the following week.

1 package mushroom tortellini
1/2 cup dried mushrooms, chopped
1 can cannelini beans (or 2 c cooked white beans of any variety)
4 small tomatoes, seeded
1 head broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 handsful frozen peas
1/2 cup cooked chicken, diced
1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T butter
2 T flour, sifted
2 cups milk
6 oz cheese, cubed and divided into 3oz portions (use whatever cheese variety you have on hand)

Cook tortellini according to package directions.
While pasta is cooking, reconstitute mushrooms in warm water, and saute onion and garlic in butter until lightly browned. Sift flour over onion mixture and continue to cook on low-medium heat until flour has coated onions and begins to brown. Add milk, stirring frequently until mixture begins to thicken and then add half of the cheese mixture and allow to melt and incorporate entirely while stirring to make a thick cheese sauce.
Pour beans into oiled casserole dish with vegetables and chicken. Puree tomatoes in a blender or food processor and pour over bean and vegetable mixture.
Add tortellini once cooked, pour cheese sauce overtop, and fold ingredients together.
Sprinkle remaining cheese over top, and bake 30-45 min at 375.

This will be a fairly dry casserole. If you prefer it to be more saucy, throw in a can of cream of mushroom soup, or double the sauce recipe.