Sunday, February 1, 2015

Foodie Pen Pal January 2015

This year I am really looking forward to using the Foodie Pen Pal to get some treats I can't find out here in Japan! If you have never heard of Foodie Pen Pals, it is a monthly exchange hosted by Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean! You are paired up and send your partner a small package with some food stuff: local, themed, healthy, treats- you all pick!  
The Lean Green Bean
This month was another victorious month when it came time to open my package! The weather is still cold enough that I was able to ask my pen pal for some Justin's peanut butter cups. They were such a delicious treat that Gene and I would pick up every now and again when we were at Sprouts or Whole Foods, and they are nowhere on this island. After a quick stop through customs, my package was waiting for me at the post office and I couldn't have been happier! Not only were there some peanut butter cups inside, but various other treats as well!
VANILLA ALMOND BUTTER?!?! You guys, I didn't even know this was a thing. Maybe I knew and I just didn't remember since we can't get it out here, but either way- this stuff is amazing and I immediately went online and ordered some! I love these little packets because they're a single serving (so I don't end up eating a spoonful... or ten... too many! The chocolate hazelnut is like nutella, only a million times healthier, with such better ingredients!

I lucked out because the apple pie Larabar is one of my favorites! Isn't it funny, we've only been here 6 months and I already forget about things! Larabars were a staple in my purse back home- I picked some up every time we went to the grocery store! I don't see them, so I don't think to pick any up, and I didn't realize how badly I've been missing them until this package! YUM.

Of course: SALT! It's so nice to have real sea salt when it comes to time to actually use it. We use it sparingly- mostly only on tomatoes and avocados! I'm so happy to have some of this back in my pantry!

I don't think Susan (my partner) has a blog, so I'll share real quick what I sent her as well:
If you follow me on Instagram, you will know TacoRice is one of my favorite things ever. I included a kit which comes with the meat (in a foil pack, that you heat up) and hot sauce- just add rice, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes for a yummy fish! I also included matcha (green tea) and strawberry KitKats, pocky, and some awesome little chocolates that are like shredded almonds formed into sticks and dipped into milk chocolate... they're delicious, whatever they are! Here in Okinawa, they are really big on using your own grocery bags, so I included one and of course: chopsticks!

If you want to sign up for Foodie Pen Pals, hop on over to Lindsay's blog (by clicking the foodie pen pal banner above) and get signed up before the 4th!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When Your Doctor Tells You "You're Fat, This Is A Result" And It Isn't

One of my least favorite people I have ever encountered and had to work with was my civilian OB/GYN in Fallbrook. The man who diagnosed me as being "clinically white" when I went to him to address my severe bruising (I wrote about that here). He was generally rude (talking to me during an exam about how we shouldn't have guys in Afghanistan... while I was naked, and Gene was deployed to Afghanistan) and quite frankly obnoxious. He had zero bedside manner, and I suppose that was one main reason I didn't really get too upset when I went to him with an issue and he told me I was fat, and that was why I was experiencing what I was.

For the sake of everyone reading this, I'm going to point out right now that this is a post about a sensitive issue for me. It involves talking about my gut health and candida (a fungus or bacteria we all have in our mouths and intestines which can present itself in yeast overgrowth and a myriad of symptoms). Feel free to click away if that just doesn't interest you.

I asked my doctor about rashes I would get under my breasts and where my leg met my torso. I am fat. I am fat 365 days a year. What I was experiencing was cyclically occurring once every month, every other month- and so I ruled out my obesity as the cause. Beyond the rashes popping up cyclically, I had a bunch of other things I didn't even know were symptoms of an overgrowth until I started researching and saw them all placed together:
Pin from Frugal G33k on Pinterest
You guys- I was SUFFERING. I didn't recognize myself anymore! It went beyond me to those around me. I was suffering with anxiety and depression. I would cry on the phone or facetime with Nan sometimes and not even know why. I was tired all the time and found myself napping in the afternoon more often than not some weeks, even after getting a full 10 hours of sleep! I had patches of dandruffy scabs on my scalp which was most likely psoriasis (which I talked about briefly here). I was angry for no reason and had the shortest temper! I was irritable, emotional, and moody. I was taking 4-10 tums every night for heartburn and upset stomach. I previously suffered off and on with hypothyroidism. I suffered from a brain fog and forgetfullness more so than the typical "why did I come into this room" where I worried they would revoke my SOFA status here in Okinawa and send me back to the states! I'd forget to put the car in park, I'd forget to turn burners off, I'd forget laundry, I'd forget places I was supposed to be! I was always complaining about nasal dripping & mucus. I can't tell you the last time I didn't have a headache. I've been struggling with weight loss even when I've been "eating less and moving more" and eating right through the 21 Day Fix!

That paragraph seems really long, but the truth is: I could go on with all of the things that were draining me without any kind of cause! There were several times I felt like I needed to be hospitalized... in a psych ward. I was scared of who I had become and I needed to do SOMETHING.

I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. Information in this post and on this blog is not meant to serve as medical advice. Please research your medical concerns and health issues through a qualified resource or consult a medical professional.

I started looking into essential oils and the ways I could use them. While looking for help with my PCOS I discovered doTerra's GX Assist and PB Assist+. Believe what you want about essential oils, but I thought "what can it hurt to try and figure this out!?" I started the GX assist- a GI cleanse used by several for a candida cleanse in conjuncture with a heavily restricted diet, on Monday morning. I woke up this morning, on the third day of this cleanse, and I didn't recognize myself... in the best possible way!

I had energy for the first time in I couldn't tell you how long! My face had thinned out from the bloat going away. I was much more mild tempered, jolly and cheerful even. My headaches are still there, but not nearly as bad as they had been. I'm sleeping sounder and falling asleep easier. My skin is clearer. I feel bright-eyed and bushy tailed!

I know I never want to eat another grain as long as I live and I am going to plead my case to my doctor next week and try to get tested for a yeast allergy. I feel like I finally hit the "I want to get better" jackpot with this, and am so excited that something more serious isn't wrong with me! If you are suffering from the above symptoms, push your doctor for tests- sometimes you really have to be your number one advocate!
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Friday, January 23, 2015

What I'm Reading: Roomies

I've been on a roll lately with picking great books that I fall in love with and read in a sitting. Last week I read three back to back to back! It made for a sleepless week, sure, but it kept me entertained and reinvigorated my desire to read! Third in my list of read books for 2015 is Roomies by Lindy Zar.
If I'm being honest about how I read a book, I have to tell you the following: I read a book for the sheer pleasure of the story and retain almost nothing from it. This is one reason I did so horribly in English in high school- once I read it, it's gone. I often have to flip back through the book and see what's going on if I don't read it in one sitting. This brings me to the worst book review you'll ever read. I read this book a week ago, read another one since, and working on the next, and am just getting around to writing this.

The book puts the two main characters together in a roommate situation: male (something like late 20's/30?) and female (gosh, something like 23/24?). They've been living like this for a little over a year or so when the male roommate announces that his little brother is coming into town for the summer. The gal roommate is madly in love with the man she shares quarters with and is not looking forward to a bratty high school kid meandering around their apartment, playing video games, and getting in the way.

She comes home from work one day to find a quite attractive man in the apartment, just chillin'. In my head I immediately see Milo Ventimiglia a la Jess Mariano in Gilmore Girls. She thinks he is a friend of her roommate, but soon discovers he's the brother!

Ah- I just looked up the Characters. Graham is the male roommate, Kendall is the girl roommate, and Blake is the brother.

Kendall is attracted to Blake like most ladies are attracted to bad boys. There is an internal "love triangle" struggle between her long standing crush on Graham and this new flame that could burn bright for Blake! There is history between the brothers and they compete for Kendall's affection without coming out and admitting they're challenging one another.

I really enjoyed this one! It's a romance novel, but not overly smutty. It's not an advanced read, but perfect for a spring afternoon out in a field or summer poolside read- you know, the romanticized "look at me spending my afternoon deep in a good read" scenes! Best part was I got it for something like $2 on Kindle!

Until next time, you can find me in a book!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Meeting My First Tanuki in Sasebo!

If you had asked me before our trip to Sasebo what a "tanuki" was, I'd have had no clue. It was awkward, to say the least, when we come across this statue on our walk around the base Sunday morning, after a delicious brunch at the base club. We wandered around to check out different memorials on the base and monuments erected in honor of those who served the US Military in Sasebo. We stopped at a little garden outside the Fleet Activities Headquarters building. Then, as we were walking back by the base club to head to the lodge, we saw this little statue just hanging out in front of the Chief's Club. Luckily, he had a plaque and we were able to read his story.
From the plaque:
"This Tanuki started his Naval career as a hallow ornament decorating the yard in front of the old Fiddler's Green Enlisted Club, back in 1953. He was then purchased for the hefty sum of ¥4,000. The Fleet Activities Tanuki is always prepared to spread cheer, carrying a chit book of IOU's in his left paw, and an always full sake bottle in his right.
Tanuki's history at Fleet Activities Sasebo has not always been easy. One night a group of fleet sailors thought that Tanuki would look better on the focsle of their ship instead of the front of the Fiddler's Green Enlisted Club, so they stole him. While transporting him down the hill to the ship, Tanuki got away from the sailors and broke into many pieces. He was then painstakingly restored and filled with concrete to make moving him very difficult. This time gracing the Fiddler's Green ballroom, with his new electric red eyes and pink chan-chank-ko.
 When Fiddler's Green closed back in 1973, he was moved to the front of the security building, then in use as the supply office. When the supply department moved to their present location, security deemed that the poor Tanuki was inappropriate to greet visitors in front of their building, and he was soon deposited in the public works scrap yard. Here Tanuki aged gracefully until restorations by the public works department in 1989, assuming his rightful place of honor at the base club facility, a center for comradery and hospitality."
How fun is that? We then of course had to do some research on what a tanuki was when we got back to the room- what his significance was! These little Japanese raccoon dogs have "been significant in Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischevievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absentminded. It is also a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary." (From Wikipedia.)

We then of course "oooh"ed and "ahhhh"ed over pictures of these little raccoon dogs, cute little buggers! The hunt is on to find a little tanuki statue to add to our souvenir collection of our time in Okinawa!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Our Taketomi Glass Bottom Boat Ride

When we were down in Ishigaki over Thanksgiving weekend, Gene and I took a ferry over to Taketomi Island. It's a tiny island in the Ryukyu chain that you can only get to via ferry! There's not entirely too much to do over there, except enjoy the scenery and the quiet, untouched, Ryukyu Village. We took a water buffalo drawn cart ride around the village before heading back to the port to go back to Ishigaki. It was there we noticed there were glass bottom boat coral sight seeing tours. We checked it out and for a few bucks, we were able to go out into the water for a quick adventure!
I have never been on a glass bottom boat, but have heard about them being a really neat thing to do! There is actually one off the coast of Okinawa that is on our bucket list! I love the idea of getting to see the coral and the fish, but the idea of scuba and even snorkeling kind of freaks me out. This is the perfect way to get to see underwater life without getting into the water (or a wet suit!). The boat we went on had a bench on either side (port and starbird), facing the center of the boat. There was a wall all around the center so you couldn't step on the glass bottom, but you could lean on it (the wall) to see everything underneath the boat!
I feel like it's such a silly thing to say, but the water out here on this side of the Pacific IS SO BLUE. I mean, the sky is cleaner and "bluer" and that makes the water appear clearer and bluer. It's unlike anything I've ever seen and I'm constantly amazed by it, but then put me on a boat in the water with a glass floor and HOLY-MOLEY! It was stunning to see the coral underneath us with such a crisp, clean view! We were able to see various types of coral, which our boat captain explained to those on the tour who understood Japanese (ie: not us). Even not being able to understand his descriptions, it was amazing.
In this above picture, if you look, you'll see the tiniest little BRIGHT blue fish! It was so fun to see these little fellas swimming by in rather large schools! We saw tons of fish- and everyone freaked out when they saw a "NEMO" fish! The captain just kept exclaiming "NEMO! NEMO! NEMO!" and pointing wildly until Gene and I looked and acted like it was the most spectacular thing we've ever seen. One thing we've already learned in our time here is that the Japanese people love Disney, and Nemo is no exception!

There was a bit of a feeding frenzy towards the end of the ride! The captain pushed a button and fish swarmed the boat to greedily get some!
We went on quite the budget to explore Ishigaki. We walked to the port, and bought the cheapest tickets they offered to see something (which is how we ended up on Taketomi). I would love to go back down when we have a little more pocket change to see more of the islands down there, but I am so happy we had this experience!

Gene bought me the most amazing pair of red coral earrings while we were down there as a Christmas gift to remember the day by! Our first international vacation filled with some amazing things I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be doing!

Have you ever been on a glass bottom boat ride? 

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