Monthly Archives: February 2011

Perfect Moment Monday: No apologies.

Life’s been all out of whack lately and one of the things my spectacular mental health professional wanted me to do was get out and do stuff with other people.

To be honest, until I met a bunch of local bloggers in June 2009, all of my own local friends were co-workers, which can be weird when you need girly friendship. Denise is one of those bloggers and last month, I ordered Girl Scout cookies (don’t judge!) from her daughter with lunch planned once the cookies were in Denise’s possession.

The perfect moment wasn’t about meeting up with her for lunch and an excursion into a local thrift store, though it was good to get out and do something different on one of the weekdays I don’t go to the day job.

I burst into tears over lunch, totally unexpectedly. I would tell her “sorry” over and over and over again in the couple hours we spent together.

“No apologies necessary”, she explained. Over and over again.

Thank you, Denise. I needed those perfect words.

(For more about Perfect Moment Monday, please visit Write Mind Open Heart.)

Crockpot Lesson #4 – Cookbooks

So now maybe you have made the 40-clove garlic chicken or the coffee braised pot roast or the spicy pulled pork…or even all three.

Maybe you want to try something a little more adventurous or a little more fancy. Perhaps a more traditional chili recipe, or one that isn’t so traditional; maybe a romantic dinner of braised lamb shanks?

These are my go-to cookbooks where I seek out inspiration when I want to slow cook a bit more adventurous or fancy. Please note, however, that the recipes found in the booklet that comes with Rival-brand CrockPots are also worth trying!

The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley – Full of recipes from around the world from Ireland to India, accompanied by ideal beer and wine choices with the completed meal.

The Healthy Slow Cooker by Judith Finlayson – Nutrition information and helpful ingredient tips are included for each recipe and it contains many recipes that are vegan or vegetarian.

Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two by Beth Hensperger – Perfect for the smaller slow cooker and the smaller family; large variety of recipes.

Lasting impressions.

I know, I know. I never can say enough about Jenni and her fantastic ChronicBabe website that helped me along my journey towards accepting all my physical and mental health concerns. In return for all the support she and her community have given to me over the years, I’m helping her out a bit over at the forums in a more formal role as Midtern. I came up with that name on my own, short for mid-thirties intern.

I thought I would take a look back to the first impression I had of ChronicBabe – almost exactly five years ago – March 2, 2006.


I feel isolated from other people my age at times. Dealing with type 2 diabetes at age 29 does that. Dealing with hypothyroidism does that. This year has been a time of self re-evaluation – just when I thought I was on track with my life, I got the double whammy diagnoses and everything changed.

Right now, I am dealing with more hair falling out, something that can be a side effect of both high blood sugars and hypothyroidism. Right now, I am not sure which is the culprit. My blood sugars have been running on the higher side (for me) after meals. I had a dosage change on my thyroid replacement hormone in December and have been putting off blood tests to see if it needs to be increased yet again. I avoided having my picture taken at a family wedding last weekend because I had grown sick and tired of seeing myself with thinning hair.

Kerri posted today about a website that may provide some comfort called Chronic Babe. I need to check it out a bit further, but I think it is just what I needed. A reminder how I have pledged to make my 30′s healthier and happier than my 20′s. A reminder that there are other women balancing chronic health issues with an otherwise happy, well-adjusted life.


Wow. That post is so old, it was before Kerri even had her own domain name! (I fixed the link for this post.)

Handwriting meme.

The meme rules/questions that you must write on a sheet of paper, not type on your computer or smart phone keyboard (from BugginWord):
1. What’s your name/your Blogger name?
2. What’s your blog’s name/URL?
3. Write “the quick fox jumps over the lazy dog”.
4. Favorite quote?
5. Your Favorite song?
6. Your favorite band/singers?
7. Anything else you want to say?
8. Tag 3-5 other people.

On Wisconsin.

Perhaps it is not appropriate for me to talk on and on about the situation in Wisconsin politics on Facebook when I know I am biased. That bias goes beyond the fact that I am liberal and I know that some of my friends are conservative.

I am the only member of my immediate family who does not live in the state of Wisconsin. Of the adults in my immediate family living there, half are employed by the state of Wisconsin. Not only that but many friends are also employed by the state in various capacities.

I consider both pay and benefits to be a person’s salary. Whether you cut someone’s pay without reducing benefits or cut benefits (read: expect an employee to contribute more to pension and health care), it is still a cut in take-home pay. The estimate on this pay cut as proposed by Republican governor Scott Walker is $4000-$6000 per year. For some, this amounts to a 10% pay cut – or more.

Compared to other states, Wisconsin’s budget crisis is middle of the pack. It is not a dire situation, not with what measures were taken in the past couple years under the Democratic governor, including several furlough days in 2009 and 2010 for state employees.

So what exactly does stripping the right to collectively bargain have to do with the state budget crisis? As far as I can see, nothing. It is leading the conversation away from what needs to be done to repair the state’s finances.

Will there still be tough questions regarding state employees, their jobs, and their pay? Certainly, just as there are tough questions regarding spending in every other area of the budget (and tough questions being seen at the federal level as well, but that’s an entirely different can of worms). Because I do not live in Wisconsin, I admit I do not know all the nitty-gritty details of what else is on the chopping block because those items have not made the national news.

But I ask again, what does stripping the right to collectively bargain have to do with the state budget?

Got it?

I get it now.

I get why SMHP gave me the assignment to write a list to inspire.

It wasn’t just to learn to snowshoe or to start the diabetes support group or to submit an idea for Ignite Boulder. It wasn’t just learning to knit or making plans with local friends or thinking outside the box with the one-space-after-a-period thing.

Did I succeed at everything I tried in the five weeks between appointments? No, I grew frustrated with the lack of interest in the support group, the presentation did not get selected for Ignite Boulder, and I am sure dropping a ton of f-bombs as I learn to knit.

The thing is, I tried everything I put on the list to inspire. I stopped procrastinating and started doing.

But the list to inspire wasn’t just to stop procrastinating and start doing, either.

I get it. It was about regaining confidence in myself in the overall scheme of life, not just with new ventures and adventures. Events occurred this past fall that drained what bits and pieces of confidence I did have in myself. I stopped believing I could do the seemingly big scary things like the support group or submitting a presentation proposal as well as the little tiny insignificant things like learning to snowshoe or to knit.

Not to mention all those things I lost interest in – diabetes advocacy, reading, working out – you get the idea.

Now that I feel a bit stronger and a lot wiser thanks to the list to inspire, I feel confidence returning for doing new things and I feel interest regained in the things I love.

Yesterday, I participated in the first interview about my experience with diabetes in what seems like forever (in reality, only a few months). Afterwards, I felt relief from the darkness. I did something I loved and it felt awesome.

I get it now. This is me, crawling out of a dark place, growing stronger and wiser over what it takes to come back into the light, even if this time I could not do it without the guidance from SMHP.

Crockpot Lesson #3 – Spicy Pulled Pork

During the last several years, a trend developed putting rice in burritos, done at all sorts of restaurants that serve them – fast food, quick-serve, or sit-down. Some places, you can opt out – others you cannot.

My dislike of rice in burritos started with a dislike of rice in general, but when diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few years ago, I knew I needed to avoid the carbohydrate-heavy food as it spiked blood glucose levels much too high.

What is a girl to do who loves burritos? Make them at home, of course.


Rachel’s Spicy Pulled Pork

(once again, adapted from several recipes)

4-5 lb pork shoulder (this will produce plenty of meat for 2 burritos and leftovers)

2 tbsp chili powder (Aji Amarillo powder is perfect)

2 medium onions, chopped

1 28 oz can red chile sauce

Rub the pork shoulder with the chili powder. Sear in an oiled skillet until brown on all surfaces (including sides), about four minutes per surface.

Layer the onions in the slow cooker. Place seared shoulder on top of the onions. Cover with red chile sauce.

Cook 8-9 hours on low.

Remove meat from slow cooker and let cool for five minutes. Pull the pork with a large fork (this may take several minutes).

If you are using the meat for burritos, heat tortillas briefly in a skillet and then load them up with cheese, beans, or other preferred ingredients along with the pulled pork. Fold tortilla around filling and top with red chile sauce and onions from slow cooker.

Serve with sour cream and/or guacamole if desired.


If you do not eat pork, you can easily make pulled beef with a brisket. Follow the same instructions, only making sure to cook it on low for only 7-8 hours, depending on your slow cooker.  Cooking for much longer may dry out the beef.

And that’s right, your slow cooker may vary. It may take less or it may take more time than what is listed in standard recipes, and it may take a few meals to know how fast or how slow yours runs.

The heart of a woman, 2011.

I wrote this a couple years ago over at Diabetes Daily in advance of Go Red for Women Day, a project of the American Heart Association to raise awareness of heart disease risk in women. I forgot to write a post when I wore red this year, though we all might as well think about our hearts on Valentine’s Day, right?


Long before type 2 diabetes became a concern for me, I knew my risk of heart disease had been increased as my father faced a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery at age 49.  Having a father or brother suffer a heart attack before age 55 (or a mother or sister before age 65) raises anyone’s risk for early heart disease.

Because of that, I have been having my cholesterol screened regularly since I was 18, about a year after my father’s heart disease arrived.  Once type 2 diabetes entered the picture before my 29th birthday, I knew that my risk was even higher.  While some of the changes I made focused on lowering blood sugar and blood pressure, others were focused on lowering cholesterol.

Along with watching carbohydrate intake and exercising regularly, I have minimized the amount of milk-based dairy I consume.  It has made all the difference for my cholesterol numbers.  (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

Even with all that knowledge, I sometimes forget that heart disease could be in my future. But recently, I was reminded that women do have heart attacks when the mother of a close friend experienced one.

It is extremely important for women to know that they can be victims of heart disease, too, particularly when they also have diabetes and/or hypertension.   We must know the signs of heart attack and stroke and how our symptoms may differ from men’s, particularly as we age and move past menopause.   For instance, women may experience more generalized pain spreading to the jaw and abdomen when having a heart attack.


Know your family history, know your risk factors and treat them appropriatetly, and most importantly, know the symptoms of potential cardiovascular emergencies.

Booking it (Meme).

Generating some lists from my Goodreads account to create my own book meme…

Currently Reading

  • The Likeness – Tana French
  • Strangers from a Different Shore – Ronald Takaki

Five Books on My Bookshelf To Be Read

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  • The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
  • The Blue Orchard – Jackson Taylor
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
  • Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

Five Books People Tell Me I Should Read

  • The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  • Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
  • Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall –  Anna Funder

Five Fiction Favorites Read in School/College

  • Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
  • Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
  • Native Son – Richard Wright

Five Fiction Favorites as an Adult

  • Hard Laughter – Anne Lamott
  • The World According to Garp – John Irving
  • The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
  • The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Five Non-Fiction Favorites

  • The Nasty Bits – Anthony Bourdain
  • The Battle for God – Karen Armstrong
  • Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Anne Fadiman
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains – Tracy Kidder

Five Least Favorites

  • Quentins – Maeve Binchy
  • Rise and Shine – Anna Quindlen
  • Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  • The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
  • Prague – Arthur Phillips

In the moment.

Ever have one of those moments?

You know the kind, where you suddenly feel like you must remember all the details of what you smell, what you hear, what you see, and how you feel – all in case this is the day that something significant happens? You want to remember the little details that rang through your head before the significant something happened.

The significant thing could be good news or bad news for you or your family or your friends or the place where you work. It may have nothing to do with you at all, one of those “where were you when?” moments.

Of course, these are often the days where nothing significant ends up happening. Just a rather ordinary day where your nephew has his wisdom teeth removed, where your presentation does not get selected for Ignite Boulder, and you finish the day with a little Cotes du Rhone to accompany your mushroom and goat cheese omelette.

And then you wonder why you bothered to catalog those smells, those sounds, those sights, and those feelings earlier that day.

After all, the days that turn out most significant are the days where you do not stop and think, this could be the day that “xxx” happens. Those kind of days happen spontaneously, not when you are living in the moment.


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