Friday, October 23, 2015

Molasses Chicken

I just scarfed down a delicious experiment in food.

Before any chefs clobber me, just know that I have learned to enjoy the taste of simple foods. It may be bland to some but it can be delectable once you learn to appreciate the taste of real food.

And it only took about 20 minutes to make. (I don't like long cook times when I'm hungry.)

Here's what I enjoyed:

(makes 2 servings, depending on the size of the chicken breast)

1 large chicken breast thawed (cut up into bite-sized pieces will cook it faster)
Olive oil to coat the pan
1 Tbsp of refined (aka flavorless) coconut oil
*I like to blend oils--olive for a little sweet flavor but coconut because it doesn't burn at higher heats
1/2 cup onion of your preference (white or yellow)
1/2 cup cut mushrooms
sea salt to preference

On medium heat in stovetop pan, cook until chicken is thoroughly done, stirring occasionally so onions become transparent and mushrooms soften.

Then add:

1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
*these two flavors combine into almost a teriyaki-like flavor, or what I remember of it (soy is out of my diet)

Simmer for about 10 minutes.

When it's finished, I put half in a jar for the next day. The half that I eat, I use as a topping on greens or spiral-cut zucchini.

Friday, October 16, 2015

this, that, and some of those

I have a few updates I want to share:

1. Horses! (It's so much fun to be able to talk horses again.)

I'm finally seeing progress defeating the ringworm on my new horse's face (had it when I bought him). I can see fuzz growing and the hard scabs are all gone. Yay! It didn't take much--miconazole as the vet recommended. And that's easy to come by (aka Monistat in brand name, but I get the generic for this). I've also been washing his face with Betadine/water mix before slathering on the miconazole. Plus, after I'm done with him, I've been dunking the rope halter (which is black, so no staining worries) into the Betadine water to disinfect that too. It probably started working from the first day, but today I could clearly see new fuzz in the sun filling in the scabby areas of his face. The hardness under his jaw (lymph nodes) is disappearing with the fungus. I suspect his immune system was working hard to fight this. Letting him mostly relax in his new home has been the best medicine for his body to heal from the stress that had been placed on him to prepare for that auction, and that is allowing ulcers to heal on the inside, which only helps even more to boost his immune system to fight the coat fungus.

And he's doing well in the round pen. I've only taken him there a couple of times, but we're making progress on lowering his head--the head-shyness is slowly fading away. And he now comes to me immediately after releasing the "pressure" of moving out around the perimeter; no hesitation.

He's getting a little better about having his feet handled. It probably helped having those poorly applied shoes pulled and his heels lowered; they were too high. I'm sure he was sore, especially since he's now stepping out like a nice dressage pony prospect, which makes me giddy with excitement!

Last of all, the horse dentist will be out in a few weeks. Buddy has a bump on his jaw that's tender. I suspect a tooth problem. Between that and the ringworm, I have good reason to wait to put anything more than a halter on him. I want him to feel comfortable and relaxed before I bridle him. In fact, given his flinchy behaviors while desensitizing, I can more than confirm that he was cowboy'd on.

Buddy is a beautiful little pinto with the conformation for doing anything I want. And after all that I endured with my last few horses, especially Beau, I want to give him the best start that I can. That means healing him mentally through building his confidence and trust in me--he wants to but there are a few scars from his last trainers--and healing him physically, which will only help him feel better mentally.

That's the horse update. He's everything I needed and wanted. And when I'm with my horse, I forget about my disease; I am at peace.

2. Illusions of Truth is now available for preorder for the special price of $0.99 (regularly $2.99) at Amazon. The release date will be November 18, 2015. This fantasy romance novella puts a new spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast tale.

In war, the first casualty is the truth. Nira is about to learn first-hand the real truth about the beastly Asru, the enemy of her people, the Ta'fel, but not as she would expect. As a life-giver and the daughter of the ruler of the Ta'fel, she is an invaluable war prize. For the Lord Master of the Asru, Drazan the Dark, she is something more. When she is taken prisoner by the Asru, her beliefs are challenged by Drazan and, in the process, so is her heart.
Reserve your ebook today! Kindle Unlimited members will enjoy this as a free read for the first 90 days.

3. I've learned a great deal more about my autoimmune disease and insomnia. This is a thyroid AID, so hormones easily get disrupted, including adrenal hormones with the thyroid. I now know that I have been deficient in iron. My ferritin came in lower than ideal, although still in the normal range. This means low iron, despite eating meat every day, usually now at lunch. I also eat various veggies and fruits with iron, but the meat is the confusing part. I should be sufficient in iron and ferritin, you'd think. With Hashimoto's, however, I don't produce enough stomach acid and often depend on Betaine to aid my digestion. It's apparently not enough to help me absorb the iron I need. Thank goodness for supplements. In only a few days of iron supplementation, I feel much better.

And I'm sleeping better. I learned in my research that low iron and/or ferritin (the two components are related) can lead to low oxygen carried throughout the body (duh), but what I didn't know was that this also contributes to insomnia. I can only speculate why, but I'd guess it's the body's defense mechanism for survival--the adrenals make up for it by causing alertness, which tends to come at night. So, normal ferritin -> better oxygen transport -> thyroid support (and rest of the organs and glands) -> improved function -> improved metabolism and hormone support -> properly regulated metabolism -> normal sleep/wake cycle -> :D . Just don't go overboard--iron, like all minerals and vitamins, is toxic when too much is in the body.

The takeaway here is that I am sleeping better and waking up more rested and have more energy throughout the day. Hooray!

4. Last of all, The Lereni Trade is now available free to subscribers of Kindle Unlimited. I decided to give it a trial of 90 days as an Amazon exclusive.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Six days of Buddy

He's been mine for six days now. Six days of bonding and ringworm treatment. The first part I've enjoyed--he's a bright, obedient young horse with just a couple of quirks but plenty of potential. I've been dusting his body with No Thrush and it's working. The bumps and "scrapes" signs of coat fungus are disappearing.

However, the ringworm on his face, which I was told had been "starved" has worsened. No Thrush didn't help that as it started spreading, so I had to get more aggressive with treatment on his face. The vet suggested miconazole. Every woman should have that in her bathroom. It's commonly known as Monistat, and if it's gentle enough for the tender areas of our bodies, it's tender enough for equine faces. I started that yesterday, after forgetting the day before, when I bought his first vaccine.

Today, I'm going to start with Betadine, let it dry, and then smear on the miconazole. And just in case, I ordered the new Absorbine Medicated Shampoo & Spray combo pack. I also have iodine shampoo. You can bet that my old brushes will get tossed after this.

I found the No Thrush effective when Beau had coat fungus also, which is why it's my first go-to with any signs of coat fungus. I've also grown up on a ranch, and cattle herds always have some individuals with ringworm (fungal infection) on their faces and none of the horses or people got it. It will run it's course, but I'd rather eliminate it from this poor boy sooner than later. I also believe the immune system, once strengthened, learns to recognize it and attack it in the early stages in future exposures.

Removing the stress of riding, adding to Buddy's relaxation through body work, and feeding only roughage will help to heal ulcers--already seeing proof in his droppings--which will help boost his immune system and heal his whole body to fight this fungus. He's perked up as he's shown signs of improvement, so I'm hopeful that this is a good sign.

In the meantime, I'm doing what I can to keep my barn clothes out of the house. I think the kitties already had their bouts of ringworm at one time or another (after researching the symptoms in cats), most recently, the new kitty when he came in (from barn life) with terrible dandruff and a hairless spot on his chin/throat area that the vet didn't seem concerned about and was itching his head. That's all healed and no more dandruff. None of the other cats developed symptoms, nor did their human servants.

Thank goodness for the owner of this barn being so laid back. She's seen it all and doesn't get frazzled. Where I boarded before, someone (especially the owner) would be freaking out. Strangles, ringworm, all comes and goes. It's just another aspect of owning large animals. A healthy horse on the inside, however, is the best defense against the plethora of pathogens that live in the outdoors. That I learned in my journey to better health.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Delicious hot/cold salad

Having learned to live with the taste of real food, not seasonings, and liking quick, nutritionally well-rounded meals, I've come to enjoy certain combinations. It's not easy following an autoimmune diet with its restrictions, but it can be done.

No salad dressing (except a homemade vinaigrette on the good histamine days) is one of those limitations that about kills me. Greens are SO good for us that we should be eating them all the time. However, they're bland and boring...rabbit food, as my hubby calls them. So, I've created some combinations that have helped me to improve my intake of these highly nutritious plants.

This is how I like to get my greens:

It's quick, nutritionally dense and very complete. I'll swap between different types of meat, which vary in B-vitamins (besides being full of minerals), but try to stick with lean ground beef or chicken (seen in the picture).

This should only take about 20 minutes total to prepare in the following steps:

  1. Thaw one chicken breast (in the microwave usually). For convenience sake, I like Nature Raised Farms or Naked Brand chicken. If no thawing is needed, don't worry about this step.
  2. Turn on the stove to a low-medium heat and pour a little olive oil and/or coconut oil into a pan to warm. I like to have a little extra for a sauce on my greens so am liberal with the oil.
  3.  Cut up up some onions and maybe some fresh mushrooms. I have limited choices on mushrooms, so I usually get whole fresh portobellos and cut up the buttons into bite-sized pieces. Throw those in the pan.
  4. Cut up the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces (cooks faster and more convenient than having to cook it later) and throw those in the pan.
  5. Sprinkle on sea salt to taste.
  6. At this stage, I sometimes also add in asaparagus and cut the spears from the tips down into bite-sized (usually about 1 inch) pieces.
  7. Stir together and cover with a lid. Stir it every few minutes. It should take only about 10 minutes to cook once the pan is hot.
  8. While waiting for the hot topping to cook, cut up some romaine lettuce, lettuce greens, kale, spiraled/grated zucchini, and/or spinach. Mix and match however you please or want to experiment. The hot topping bring in all the flavor.
  9. I sometimes also grate carrot for extra sweetness.
Once all is done, enjoy! You can also prepare the hot ingredients the night before and refrigerate them or split them into multiple smaller servings to take with you (separate from the cold ingredients) to reheat for a new meal ready to go.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Living again

I have been a horseperson for over 30 years. I've had some good horses and some mediocre horses, and then one who has proven too dangerous for anyone (although a beauty, he proved to be one of those without any sort of brains).

And then I got terribly sick, discovered it was due to autoimmune disease, and went through months of recovery to find balance. But in all that, I was having difficulties feeling anywhere near normal. A year ago, I said good-bye to my last best friend to put him out of the pain he suffered, which I suspect was due to an equine form of autoimmune disease. It took a long time to heal emotionally and physically, but I always felt that his spirit was with me, pushing me to continue. He came into my life to teach me the good and prepare me for my own challenges, and he taught me more than all the horses I had had before him.

Since last spring, I wasn't sure I would be healthy enough to care for another horse, but over the summer, as I healed, I started to hope that maybe I would. I saw a light at the end of that dark tunnel growing closer. I saved my money, waited, made arrangements for potential boarding. I reviewed sale postings locally but nothing was quite right, and then the time came for the annual fall auction. I pulled up the catalog online, reviewed the pony listings and planned carefully. I wasn't going to spend my money on just any horse. But this time, instead of a tall horse like Beau was, I knew I wanted a pony that I could share with my kids. And this time, I told myself, I wasn't going to be competitive; instead, this horse would be a trick pony, english and western riding, and a kid's horse with a little dressage thrown in. I knew what I wanted and waited, growing eager with each passing day leading up to the sale (this weekend).

Yesterday, I took my list of lot numbers and traversed the sales yard (I've done this before but this time had specific requirements in mind, unlike when I was younger and didn't know as much). I crossed off the ones that didn't fit and marked the few that did. Some I couldn't determine because they had blankets on.

I lost the bidding war on one pony this morning and was waiting on another when I saw Buddy enter. He had been on my list but I hadn't seen much of him yesterday because I wasn't sure since his blanket hid his number. He fit what I wanted perfectly! I hadn't had a good look at him before, so I took a chance, but I knew a young horse like him (3 yo) had a lot of potential and little chance of being ruined. I have always LOVED Paints/pintos, so that caught my eye right off the bat. He was calm, neck reined wonderfully, and was the perfect size (14.2 hands). He'll grow another inch or so, but will not top 15 hands when he's done, which is the max size that I ever want. So, I bid. And as the auctioneer kept asking for a hundred more than my last bid, which was skirting my max, I prayed the other person didn't go higher. When I heard "Sold for [my bid]", my heart jumped. #687 was mine. While I'm cautious, since I will need time to discover his quirks and work through them, and I have my own health to consider, I am excited.

All the way to the sales barn today with my oldest child along, we drove west, following a double rainbow, which vanished with the rain cutting off the morning sun in the east as we reached the sales barn. I told my daughter that this was a sign. And it proved too prophetic. It turns out that the horse I got is the fourth in a series of "B" horses I've owned, the previous three all having proved that they were my "B"est horses--purely coincidence but a weird one. I'm hoping that Buddy continues that streak.

Buddy, in his pen at the stockyard.
I fell in love immediately. He's 3 but already very well broke and very quiet and easy-going, which fits my bill perfectly. As you can see, he's balanced and well-proportioned, and he could lope in the tiny sales ring, so I know he can do anything.

I know my new limitations and may not always be able to ride or do much, but at least I will have back a piece of my soul that was missing. This was the right time and, I'm hoping, the right horse. Only time will tell.

Already, I can feel that the excitement has stirred up some reaction of the AID inside me, but I'm hoping that once I get to start being his buddy that his presence will help me cope or at least feel more "normal". I have been a horseperson for over 30 years. To be without a buddy (as I always affectionately called my boys), has been frustrating. Now I will have a new Buddy, in every way.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


1. First off, who doesn't like goofy cats? We have four now. God forbid I should want another. Adding Jack was just chance of right place/right time of falling in love with a very rare cat. It's hard to believe he was a barn cat until two months ago. He's such a little attention whore! He'll cry with louder, more irritating yowls until he finally gets held the way he likes, and it usually means the human must stand, not sit, although when I'm at the computer, he makes an exception. Go figure.

We love talkative cats, but Jack goes beyond the capacity of even a Siamese.

2. I'm finally getting my body healed to where I can feel good most of the time. Yippee! Today I feel fantastic. The last couple of days that wasn't the case. I have good and bad days.

However, I've realized that certain supplements actually seem to work against me. I'm not sure why I feel tired when I take any amount of B-complex (methylated!) or D3. That's a mystery. On the plus side, I feel great when I take a milk thistle complex, so I have to wonder.

The other lingering problem is still hormonal imbalances, including insulin and cortisol. I tend to have periods of hypoglycemia on occasion. Also, I have nights where I am alert and up all night and sleep all day. Not good. I have been pushing myself to perk up during the day and using the Adrenal Reset diet to reset my adrenals, but sometimes I fail; it can take months after years of messed up living. I'm having more frequent nights of sleep when I do eat at specific times and load my carbs in the evening, but then I have setbacks if I don't stick to it. It's very disappointing when that happens.

3. My diet has played a big part in the healing. I pushed my tolerance of high-histamine foods for lunch today and feel okay--body aches and some faintness but otherwise not as bad as I used to, especially considering how many histamine-rich foods I had in my lunch. After enjoying my tea first (which I usually put off until midafternoon because, apparently, the tannins in tea can block the absorption of iron, which I need), I ate a late lunch.

I love having a salad at midday and getting my greens but can't use salad dressing. After my mother mentioned taco salad once, I decided that since I can't tolerate tomatoes and peppers (both nightshades), that I can make simply "meat" salads. Instead of taco-seasoned meat on lettuce with all the toppings, I simply fry up some meat with onions and garlic, and sometimes mushrooms, add some olive oil and maybe coconut oil and some seasonings and sea salt. Throw that on some greens, including the spinach I've been adding in, and I have a hearty salad. Today, I added a dash of ACV to the meat mixture. Apple Cider Vinegar is high in histamines (due to fermentation), which is a risk for me, but I have to keep testing my tolerances to see where I am, then step back for a while.

Since changing my diet, I've also noticed a new appreciation for foods I used to dislike. I now enjoy sweet potatoes, which made me gag as a kid, but only if fried crispy. I still don't like the texture, but they taste good. Also, I've discovered that I now like pineapple. I used to hate the flavor. Now, I can't get enough, but since it's high in manganese, I do limit myself. We can get too much of a good thing, even in nutrients. And in eating a whole foods diet, all those deficiencies that led to overeating junk disappear quickly, which is a factor in satiety.

4. Now on to the writing news. After finishing The Lereni Trade (now available), I didn't go right back to Nemesis. Instead, I had a spark of inspiration for a fantasy romance novella. It's an interesting take on the old beauty and the beast themes. In this, it's actually hard to see who is the true beast--is it the beast on the outside or the beast inside? Illusions of Truth will be out sometime this winter. It's a novella and will be exclusive to Amazon for at least the first 90 days, free in Kindle Unlimited and $2.99 otherwise.

5. I'll soon be jumping back into Nemesis. After a rewrite in one section right before the point where I left off, I will pick up finishing it. I'm not sure it'll be ready for the planned release date on February 4, 2016. I'm expecting that I'll need to push that back until May or June. Those who have preordered will still receive it when it becomes available, but I won't push to put it out before it's ready. I know fans have been waiting, but my life is different now and I have to work with what I have.

6. With my body out of whack, the creativity fluctuates too much to rely upon it being there when I have the time to sit down and write. This is frustrating for me, but I've learned to just go with the flow, and no longer stress about writing. I have finally succeeded in relinquishing the monetary motives to write faster. I've told myself that for the last few years, but it took getting sick to finally accept that living means being open to change and taking it moment by moment. I miss a lot of living when I hide away with a story. I just wish I didn't have to suffer to realize that.

Tomorrow isn't guaranteed.

7. There's something that's been missing in my life for nearly a year and the time has finally come to bring in what will be another time sink but one that has brought me great pleasure since I was young. A part of my soul has been missing, but I feel that the friend I put to rest last year has been an angel lurking over my shoulder, nudging me to get back to it. If it's meant to be, things will work out. I will be disappointed if it doesn't, but at the same time, I know I have new limitations that I didn't have before. In a few days, I'll know.

8. One last item of no big consequence...I updated my headers here and FB and Twitter. You'll notice that I now display all the book covers I have. I forgot one novella, When Angels Cry, but will get that updated in the next couple of days. I stare in awe of all that I've written, which doesn't include my early attempts before self-publishing gave me my dreams, which include becoming a member of SFWA. I knew they added up but seeing them all together like this is inspiring to me. If something happened to me tomorrow, I will have left quite a legacy. (Not counting the Dark Angel Chronicles, which is actually an omnibus of the first 5 Starfire Angels books below it, there are 15 novels, 2 novelettes, and 5 novellas to date. Illusions of Truth will be the 23rd book / 6th novella.)

I wish you all the best, and happy reading!