Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pecan Pumpkin Loaf

Pecan Pumpkin Loaf (adapted from recipe on Pamela's Four Mix bag)


4 tbsp vegetable shortening, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1-1/2 cup flour mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp vegetable shortening, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans

Makes one 8x4 inch loaf.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the shortening, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin together until well combined. Then mix in all the dry ingredients and again mix until well combined. Pour into a greased 8x4 loaf pan.
Mix all the ingredients of the nut topping together then pour over bread batter and pat in.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until toothpick comes out almost clean.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Hi I've just dropped back in to say hello and give you an update on my life. Like usual a lot of things have happened and I'll just put them down as they pop in my head.

First I am back at school and all moved in to my new house (which is actually called a co-op, but as it is actually a very old house I shall call it that). I absolutely adore it and all the wonderful people I live with. They are so awesome they deserve their own post...eventually.

Before classes started I traveled to NYC and Philadelphia, PA with four other students from my school and fifteen to twenty chinese exchange students. The trip was fantastic and the people incredible. Alas though that is again a subject to be expanded on another day.

Anjou showing off his sleepy ninja skills

I ended up getting a rat, who I named Anjou after the pear cultivar, about three weeks ago and while he isn't a dog he is still very entertaining. He like food, belly rubs, and sleeping in his litter box. He too deserves is own post...again eventually.

I've just started looking into doing a double major with urban planning, but as I haven't even talked to the school about how that works there's really not much more to say about it at the moment.

I was taking Arabic in the first half of the semester, but the instructors teaching style didn't match my learning style so I decided that it would be better to drop it and take it with a different instructor at another time so I can actually learn it as well as I want to. Doing that has freed up 50 minutes of my day, everyday, so I'm planning on using that to go to yoga with a couple friends instead. Now I'm down to only 12 credits (the minimum at which you can still count as a full time student) so I think I'll be using my spare time and energy to make a start on my thesis. I'll let you know when I actually figure out what my thesis is.

I visited the gorgeous city of Toronto, Canada last weekend. More on that later too.

My health continues to decline unfortunately. I'd been holding out on going to a chiropractor, or acupuncturist, or nutritionist for some foolish and unknown reason, but almost fainting at work today was the last straw. On Monday I'm contacting ALL of them. God save my bank account.

And per usual I'm avoiding doing homework :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

GI: acceptance

At school I'd been having problems with pain in the upper right side of my chest, at points it was so bad I couldn't walk and I had to kiss running goodbye for three frustrating months. Due to the placement of the pain my GI doctor suggested it was most likely a Gallbladder problem, even though an ultrasound I'd had back in October showed it was normal, so she scheduled a HIDA scan for the day after my return and the results led us to schedule a meeting with a surgeon which happened this past Friday. The surgeon and I talked a bit and her verdict was that while my Gallbladder was functioning at half the normal level all the other symptoms I'd mentioned were inconsistent with typical Gallbladder trouble so she could take it out, but that would be more of a diagnostic test than a solution. I said that since we weren't sure it was actually going to do any good I'd rather hang on to my organs.

Now I'm wondering yet again what could have caused all this, and yet again I come back to "what if I damaged/tweaked/pinched my vagus nerve?" I keep remembering that fateful day in theater class where I was moving in twisty feel-the-space-around-you ways, like you do in theater class, and I suddenly got a searing pain in the middle of my chest that left my eyes welling and me gasping. It was gone in probably less than a minute (of course to me it felt much longer) and I didn't think any more about it, but within a week I started to have reflux problems. That coupled with the test results, or lack of results, I've been getting makes it make more sense every time. Reflux, then poor esophageal motility, then a half functioning Gallbladder- all of those things as far as I can tell are controlled by the vagus nerve and the fact that all of them aren't functioning well, but also don't have anything specific wrong with them seems like strong evidence to me. But at least so far there isn't a conclusive test for vagus nerve functioning and no way to reverse it even if it was conclusively proven to be the cause of my discomfort. But the why really doesn't matter. I have had a perspective change.

This poor body of mine is like a tatty old footstool with the stuffing leaking out, patches that clash, and springs sticking out the top. In other words it needs some serious TLC, and that's exactly what it's going to get. Before I would sew on patches willy nilly, poke the stuffing back in the holes, put duct tape over the springs, and pretend that it was all fine while looking at other footstools online and dreaming that I had them instead. But this is the footstool that was issued to me and I can't trade it in and maybe in time I won't want to. It's got a good frame, and some of the patches don't look so bad, and there's no rule that says I can replace the springs and reupholster the rest. It's time I stop kicking this hated thing that I've shoved in the corner, ashamed that people might see what a mess I've made of it. It's time to pull it out and start working, in the garage at first keeping my treasure safe from the judging eyes of those that don't see it's potential, then gradually sharing it until it sits in the pride of place and it's elegance commented on by all who visit.

Thank for bearing with my rambling and extended furniture metaphor. I know I will look back on this post and think it was so cheesy, but it needed saying (I'll think that line is cheesy too). But maybe future Caroline will have learned the self love by the time she rereads this to give it an accepting smile that present Caroline has not yet learned how to do in her 20 years on this planet.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cooking: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with glaze

The past week has been bitter sweet; I spent most of my time at my old "school", Village Home (I put it in quotations because it is so much better than and different from a traditional school). It was fabulous to see some of my old friends and join them for classes that I either used to be in or wished they had when I was there. The people at Village never fail to amaze, impress, and make me envious. Some of my friends that haven't already gone to college are going next year at the traditional freshman age, but they'll be transferring as juniors. Others are getting jobs and setting out on their own to follow their desires, and still others that will still be at Village are excelling on every competitive team they have (Which includes Model UN, Mock Trial, Lego Robotics, Destination Imagination and more) and being awesome at their other extra curricular activities. Now you can see why I'm envious, compared to them I'm positively a slacker but that's homeschoolers for you. They have the freedom and time to grow into motivated, passionate people. Then they have to spend the rest of their lives fighting to maintain that (that would be where I am right now).

But on to the recipe! I made this right after I got home, but I got too distracted with all the other great stuff I want to make.

 Yay, muffins!
 These guys are scrumptious (although a little dry because I didn't put a full cup of yogurt in).

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Adapted from this recipe

2 cups gluten free flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 cup lemon soy yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp lemon extract
1/3 cup lemon juice

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a medium bowl mix egg, yogurt, oil, lemon extract, and lemon juice. Then mix in the dry ingredients until nicely combined.
  • Spoon into lined or greased 12-cup muffin pan.
  • Bake for 18 minutes

When completely cooled spoon glaze over the muffins. This will be messy- I put the muffins on a cutting board, but any easy to clean place works.

From Martha Stewart

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsps lemon juice

  • Put both ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. If it's too think to pour easily add a smidge more lemon juices.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cooking: Caroline's Brownie GORP

Well it's actually warm here for once which means it's running early or late in the day season. This time I succeeded in running early- before 10 am actually! This is momentous for me since I an not, repeat not, a morning person (although my roommate this past year may disagree, but the only time things are quite at college is before 9 am). I get up early, but don't count as functional until much later.
This run was special for another reason too, it was the first time I'd run with Tazzi since I got home.
Why are you stopping to take pictures? We're here to run!

While I love running with that guy it is much more difficult than running alone because a) he does not get along with other dogs and b) he likes to pull. I'm not talented enough to look after these things and work on my technique so we don't run together as much as I'd like.

On to the recipe. I love brownies, but what I love even more is brownies with lots of extras in them. So I decided to take the extras I love and mix them together to make a I-can-maybe-convince-myself-it's-healthy snack. I mean walnut pieces (healthy) + dried cranberries (mostly healthy) + vegan chocolate chips (humm, not so healthy) evens out as a healthy snack, right?

It also makes a superb topping for rice milk ice cream!

Caroline's Brownie GORP

1 cup dried cranberries (chopped if large)
1 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Put all ingredients in a bag, leave the air in, and shake to mix.
Enjoy by the handful or put on all sorts of goodies. Bonus- you have premixed awesome for your next batch of brownies.

Of course I had some helpers when I was taking the pictures.
Food at nose height? Yeah, we'll help!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Running: Color Me Rad Race Recap

Okay, maybe calling it a race isn't quite right, let's call it a fun run since it was incredibly fun! So Color Me Rad is a 5k run where volunteers cover you with a different color at each kilometer. It's like the Color Run, but actually fits my schedule (I'm in NY for the Portland one, and in Portland for the NY one). Anyway, it was delightful! Weather was perfect (high 60F?) not too hot or cold, many people were in cool costumes, and of course there was color everywhere.

This is the first time I ran with a team and I can definitely recommend it- it's nice to have people to get pumped with.
The team nice and clean before the run
And now nice and colorful
I managed to run much more than I expected. I've been unable to run since march because my Gallbladder has been ornery so I expected to be slogging along the whole way only being able to run a few yards at a time. In reality I ran over half of the way including running most of the steepest hill. Go me! And I was mostly not in pain which was amazing.
Sporting some rad temporary tattoos

I also got to get crafty for this run. They suggest you have a white shirt for the run so you can see all the colors you're covered in. The only white shirt we had in the house (I'm too cheap to go out and buy one) was two sizes too large. Enter scissors to do their magic and as you can see the result is pretty cool. I only recently managed to allow myself to modify any piece of clothing, now I may not be able to stop.
The splatters of victory
Race/organized run number three completed. Next up is the Electric Run in July.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Home for the summer

Well I'm home for the summer and still processing, or not processing, the past year. So much has happened I'm completely overwhelmed every time I try to think about it. All that really comes to mind is this empty panicky feeling of having way to much to do, no time to do it in, and no idea what was coming next. Hopefully at least the last one will disappear next year.

Speaking of next year here are some pictures of where I'll be living next year with 14 other wonderful girls. It definitely beats living in the dorms and better yet I'll be able to cook for myself! Sure, that will take more of the time I don't have, but at least I'll be in control of what I'm eating and by extention my health. I will also have a living room which hopefully will make homework easier next year since I prefer to do my homework on couches rather than desks.
The outside of the house
A terrible picture of the bunny that lives in the house who was admittedly a major selling point
The dining room

The kitchen!!!

The FULL spice cabinet in the kitchen
My room next year
Details of my room next year

The walk in closet with a sense of humor

The view which is what sold me on this room
I was reading an article the other day about happiness and how mostly it stems from control. If you feel like you're in control for the most part you're happier. That let me to thinking about how out of control, or at least my control, my life felt last year. I had school telling me what, where, and when I could eat (that lead to a whole lot of running around and interrupted studying let me tell you! And we won't even talk about the gluten and dairy thing.), school told me what classes to take, and where to live. Then there was my social life- I joined a fraternity my first semester and pledging is all about being told what to do, then this first year I felt like I couldn't say no to anything because I didn't know if I would ever be able to do it again or if it was something I would enjoy even if it didn't sound like it. So, essentially I felt I was being told what to do all the time- not much control there. But there is a bright side to all since things should be getting better from now on, I chose where I'm living next year, I'm choosing what I eat, I won't have to be running around quite so much, I'm not pledging anymore and have seen pledging from the side of an active all the way through now so I don't feel obligated to be there for that as much, and hopefully I'm learning to say no. Maybe if I keep repeating all this to myself I'll actually start to trust myself on this.

Next up, a recap of race #3.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The unhappy story of me and food at the moment (not puppy related)

          Okay, I'm going to finally come out and admit it both to you and to myself...I am afraid of food. There I said it. Pity that doesn't automatically make me feel better. What do I mean about being afraid of food? I get anxious every time I think about meal times. Questions race through my head like, will there be food I can eat? Will people get frustrated or exasperated at me because I can eat what their eating? I hate feeling like a burden on others, but I have to ask for accommodation. In short I feel like my health and well being are out of my control every time I need to refuel. As a consequence of this when I do find things I can eat safely I over eat because I don't know if I'll be able to have what's being served at the next meal.
          Let me back track for a moment here since I'm sure many of you are thinking to yourselves, "But Caroline you CAN cook. We know, we've seen the recipes you've posted here." To that I have to remind you that I'm at college and on a meal plan. I don't have the time or money to go food shopping right now and don't have easy access to a fully equipped kitchen.
          However even that situation is too easy for me to handle. No, we have to add yet another complicating factor because when it comes to my digestive system things are never that simple. So what should we add? Humm...I know! Let's add IBS into the equation! great, now we have a list of possible trigger foods or food elements (such as sugar, caffeine, exc.) as long as my arm from which to start guessing which ones apply to me. Now this is more of the Caroline + digestion + food situation we all know and love. (this is sarcasm, incase you had any doubt) So now I have to run the gauntlet of avoiding food intolerances and IBS exacerbating foods all while having no control over what foods are available. Are we having fun yet? So what can I eat? Lettuce? Nope, that is all fiber and with the kind of IBS I have more fiber is not a good thing.
         Now let's add the social aspect which is inescapable at college. Eating and drinking are social things. Food is everywhere. Going out to meals with friends, staying in for meals with friends, parties, meetings, critiques, all of these things are social eating situations and more often than not the food there is something I can't eat. So what am I to do? Not eat? Then I'm sitting around watching other people eat which is very awkward. Or eat and be sick the rest of the day? Or ask for others to go out of their way to accommodate me. Or just not be there if I can avoid it? I honestly don't like any of these options. So I end up getting anxious every time I even think of being in this situation again. And it happens several times a day.
         One other important thing to note is even though the food I'm intolerant to makes me feel awful it still tastes good at the time. My favorite food of all time is pizza, but it's at the top of the "don't eat me" list. Pizza being offered at events is usually an incentive, but I have to run the other way because I don't have the self control to be around it.
         I'm just ranting today not trying to find solutions. But I think talking to a nutritional counselor would be a good next step.