Friday, October 30, 2015

a little more health talk ~ and my reading stash

Good morning, friends! I've received some comments and emails from readers asking questions about intestinal problems and asking about different foods. Some people have said that they could "never give up beans". When you have an intestinal problem such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), or Crohn's, there is no choice in giving up beans/legumes (among other particular foods) ~ unless you want to remain very sick. Beans contain indigestible saccharides. The dietary goal with treating IBS and other intestinal maladies is to eat foods that are easily digested. This way, most of the nutrients can be absorbed higher up in the intestine, away from bacteria that lives near the end of the small intestine. I love beans/legumes - I used to eat them all the time because I ate mostly vegetarian. Little did I know one of my most-loved foods was contributing to my gut problems. To give them up to feel well once again, not be in constant pain, not have my stomach be so bloated that I look five months pregnant and can't even button my jeans, and not be constantly running to the bathroom with diarrhea (sorry, but I have to be real here) is 100% worth it. Once the eight weeks of being on the FODMAP diet is up, I can then try adding in one of the higher FODMAP foods (beans, gluten, apples, pears, onions, garlic, etc...there's a long list!) one at a time, to see how my intestines react.*

  On to better things ~ reading! I am never just reading one book or one magazine. I like to have several different genres of things going at one time, because I choose depending on my mood. If I want light or quick reading, I will pick up a magazine. And I'm a magazine junkie! I don't spend much on magazines...there are several I get free (I signed up with Mercury Magazines several years ago and still get free subscriptions through them) and others that are passed down to me. I do have subscriptions to several of my favorites: Mother Earth Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Clean Eating, and Midwest Living. I love the British magazines such as Country Homes and Interiors, Country Living, and The Simple Things. Every so often, I'll go to Barnes and Noble and thumb through these...and once in a blue moon, I'll treat myself to one or two of them. This is my current stash. Sorry for the poor lighting quality. I took these photos at night when I had the lights on in my house.

Here's my current book - and other reading material - pile. A cookbook, a health/psychology book, a novel, and yes, a medical article on microbiomes (which is all about your gut flora). As you can tell, I am fascinated by medical issues, how our body works, and natural ways of healing. If you're interested in reading a little about microbiomes and how they control your health, click here to read an article from Dr. Mercola. There's also a video to a TED talk in this article.

Here's a great idea that I actually saw in a magazine (don't remember which one, so I can't give proper credit): use extra vintage Pyrex dishes to corral stuff around your house. In my case, I'm using one of my dishes to stash a couple of small notebooks, page tabs, note cards, and a pen. I keep this dish in the living room by my book pile. I can't tell you how many times I'd be reading something and then have to jump up to dig for a pen, a piece of paper to write on, or a Post-It note to mark a page.

What's in your reading pile right now?

This blog post pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion about health and related sub­jects. The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked sites, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with their physician.
Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked sites.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

a whole lotta this and that

 This past weekend when hubby and I were out and about in one of our favorite towns, we stopped in a new french bakery. I thought it was really clever how they had vintage kitchen tools and milk bottles displayed in box frames on the wall.

Don't these croissants look delicious? I had a cup of coffee and...not a croissant, but an eclair. It was different from what we're accustomed to here in America. It was more of a skinny, dense pastry filled with the richest, creamy chocolate I'd ever tasted. Being on the FODMAP diet, I wasn't supposed to have this (gluten; milk chocolate). Silly me thought I'd be OK, especially since the eclair was small. (Justification.) It was delicious going down, but an hour later my stomach was in so much pain, I was almost doubled over. Boy, did I learn my lesson on that one. Definitely not worth it!

 We also stopped in one of our favorite vintage and "treasure" shops. It's a consignment shop that will buy your things right then and there and pay you cash. I didn't make a lot of money this go-around, but just enough that I was able to turn around and use that money to buy a few things in the shop. ;-) One of the things I bought was this beautiful necklace...

 and I also found a pure wool plaid blanket in perfect condition. I'm allergic to wool, so I can't use this blanket, but for now it looks nice hung over the chair in Tim's room/the guest room. I'll admire it for a little while, then pass it on to my mom. She was with us while we were shopping and really loved this blanket.

 Speaking of jewelry, Brian surprised me with these earrings the other day. We had been at a friend's Halloween party and her daughter had a bunch of her handmade jewelry there. I was looking through the stash and commented that I thought these earrings were pretty. The next morning when I got up and walked into the kitchen, these earrings were propped up next to my laptop on the kitchen table. I was super surprised because Brian usually doesn't do things like this. He's more of a gift giver for birthdays or Christmas.

 Isn't this a pitiful sight? Leaves all over the ground and patio furniture; hostas drying up. Patio weather is officially over. Cushions are now stored away in the garage and the furniture is bunched up against the house. We'll be covering it all with a tarp as soon as all the leaves are done falling. Brian cleaned out the gutters this weekend and I did a lot of sweeping and leaf-blowing. It's a never-ending job in the's like shoveling while it's still snowing.

Remember my neighbor's gorgeous maple tree that I've been documenting in photos all fall? This is it today. Almost bare. Another sad sight. And look at that gloomy sky. I think the sun will now be few and far between and gray skies and rain more the norm.

It's been a long time since I've had any red meat and I'm tired of chicken...and seeing I can't have legumes on the FODMAP diet (which I miss very much, especially since I ate mostly vegetarian), I decided to try a pot roast tonight. I smothered it in carrots, parsnips, celery and onion. Onion is another big no-no on FODMAP, but I'm hoping that with picking out the big chunks of onion and eating everything else, my tummy will be OK. The experts say not to even eat anything that's been cooked with onion - not even onion powder! - but I just couldn't see cooking a roast without it. Onion adds so much flavor. I had my meal about 1-1/2 hours ago and so far, I feel fine. 

 Thanks for visiting ~ have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

midwest autumn beauty

 My neighbor's maple tree is shouting, "Showtime"! I know this is the grand finale and that the tree will be completely bare in less than a week.

I took advantage of another warm day today by taking a walk in the State Park. I know these last days of October are going to be it as far as nice weather goes...for at least another five loong months. Come along and walk with me in this peaceful park...

The colors in nature this time of year are simply breathtaking. The golden grasses even seem to glow.

And then I came upon red grasses. Love.

Hope you enjoyed the walk in my little part of the world.
 How's the weather by you?

Monday, October 19, 2015

weekend recap and update on FODMAP diet for IBS

Hello! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was filled with good things ~ a lovely wedding, a library book sale, and a friend's annual Fall Day party. 

 I'm still learning as I go about this FODMAP diet ~ there's a lot to learn, both in reading about this food plan and putting it into practice. But it's all worth it because I am feeling unbelievably better. It's such a relief not to have terrible bloating and stomach pain after every meal, not to mention having to run to the bathroom way too many times every day. And just as a little side note, just from giving up added sugar (no candy, ice cream, or baked goods/desserts) last April and eating a clean, healthy diet plus walking and doing yoga, I've lost another five pounds! (Oh - and Brian lost 10 lbs just from giving up sugar - and he wasn't even particularly overweight. Not fair that men can lose weight that quickly!) I think that makes 10 pounds now that I've lost in a year. I don't own a scale. I go by how my pants fit. I can tell if I've gained or lost a couple of pounds. Anyway, when I was at my friend's Fall Day party, I spied a scale in her bathroom. I weighed myself and my eyes bugged out. I stepped off the scale and back on to make sure I was seeing the correct number. I'm now at the lowest weight I've been since before having children 28 years ago! I almost did a happy dance right there in the bathroom. ;-)

 {a stone's throw from my house, right down the street}

 I wanted to share another resource with those of you who may be interested in the FODMAP diet. It's amazing how many people I've heard from who shared with me that they too, have IBS. It's the FODMAP Life Blog. Here you will find expert advice, health news, resources, foods to avoid, recipes, personal stories, etc.

{neighbor's maple tree which, as of today, is now totally red}

Of course, another biggie with IBS is stress and anxiety. You can be eating all the right foods but if you face a stressful issue (and let's face it ~ that's going to happen) or a situation that causes you anxiety, it can trigger an IBS episode. I'll talk about that at another time.

Here's to your health! 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

some outdoor autumn decor

 Every fall near Halloween, I put this pumpkin-on-a-popsicle-stick somewhere in my decor. It's a must: Phil made it when he was in Kindergarten. I'm so glad I kept it.

I'm still photographing my neighbor's maple tree almost every day. The color change is nothing short of brilliant. Unfortunately, we're supposed to get our first freeze Friday night, with temps going down to 28F! I have a feeling the leaves will start falling off shortly after that.

We got this old ladder free from a neighbor who left it curbside. I dragged it out of the garage the other day and decided to use it on the side of the house for visual height. Found the mini mums at Walmart for under $2 each. 

Now that I'm looking closely at this photo, I'm of the mini pumpkins is missing from that tin container. I'm sure a squirrel was the culprit. My marigolds are still hanging in there but looking straggly, I know.

A little unrelated side note: I am feeling fantastic on this low FODMAP diet that I talked about in my last post. It is amazing how quickly this worked for me. I will talk more about it later in another post. Just wanted to give you an update.

Monday, October 12, 2015

one of those perfect sunny, warm fall weekends

 On Saturday, we traveled a couple of hours south to my cousin's house for an extended family get-together. I always enjoy driving up to my cousin's beautiful house ~ it has such lovely curb appeal. I admire the tall windows on the front and side of the house, as well as the beautiful landscaping.

Another feature of her house I have a soft spot for is on the other side where you walk under a leafy arbor to enter the house through the side door.

 We really lucked out with a warm, sunny October day, so we all sat around a bonfire in the middle of the extended driveway and talked and visited with one another. Although I don't think there was too much talking going on when I took this photo because everyone was busy stuffing their faces from the food buffet. Most of the menfolk disappeared indoors shortly after dinner to watch the Cubs baseball game. (And hooray, they won! Just for them to be in the playoffs is amazing. Ahem. And my Cubs-loving hubby is thrilled.)

 When the sun started going down though, boy, did it get cold quickly! Another cousin showed us the proper way to keep warm. ;-)

Speaking of the sun going down, my cousin's house is surrounded by farmland and we were graced with the most beautiful sunset.

 As the evening grew darker, the sky became more vivid...

 to the point where it looked like the sky was on fire.

And then it went back to pinkish tones before going completely dark. 

 Sunday was another one of those perfect warm, sunny fall days where it makes you wish fall would never end. I took a little drive to a farm called Ginger Blossom. The owner travels the world and brings back all kinds of goods...rugs, bedding, sweaters, blouses, scarves, antiques and home decor.

There's several little cottages on the property, each one filled with ethnic goods and materials.

 The barn is filled to the rafters with antiques, glassware, decor and furniture from all over the world.

Not sure if this outdoor elephant sculpture was for sale, but I thought the grasses behind it were so beautiful. Don't you just love that white plumage - it looks like bird feathers!

There was a wonderful variety of pumpkins and gourds for sale, too though I didn't bring any home with me. I did bring home locally-made cheese and raw honey.

Hope you had a good weekend, too!

Friday, October 9, 2015

a little catch-up, IBS, and the FODMAP diet

I know I've been MIA for a week. Lots going on, but mostly good stuff: meeting up with Tim for a late breakfast and catching up; a visit from an out-of-town friend; meeting up with my niece and talking to her over dinner; shopping for a dress to wear to my best friend's son's wedding next week; shopping for a rug and comforter for our in-progress bedroom re-do (got the rug; no luck yet on the comforter)...and then just keeping up with the everyday stuff with housekeeping, grocery shopping, yard maintenance, little home projects, hair cut appointment, daily exercise, yoga classes, and vet appointments for Monkey. I'm glad to report that he's doing really well.

I know I don't normally mention health issues on this blog, but this medical issue is part of my life and something I felt I should share with you all since it's a common problem. I'm learning a lot about it and figured that perhaps I could help someone else as I go on a new journey and share what I learn.

I have IBS ~ or, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I've actually had it for about four or five years, but it's been getting worse recently. Gut problems and food intolerances run in my family. Also, anxiety can trigger episodes of IBS and yeah, I have pretty bad anxiety, too. I'm not on any medication for my anxiety; I choose to treat it with natural ways such as meditation, yoga, walks in nature, deep breathing, and hot baths with essential oils. I'm not saying this is the right way for everyone; I'm just sharing what has worked for me.

With my IBS getting worse, I've done a lot of research and have read not only about IBS in general, but about diet. I have eaten a healthy, clean diet for several years now ~ meaning no processed foods (I read labels on everything!), no fast food, no foods containing high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil or any other hydrogenated oils, no nitrates or nitrites, no food colorings or MSG, no refined sugar, no excess sugar or sodium, etc. Basically, I stick to real, whole foods as much as I can. I'm not perfect and neither is my diet. I'm not saying I've never eaten any junk food in these past few years. It's more about being mindful about what you put in your body. BUT. That's not enough to help IBS!

I found a great website that has a ton of information about IBS. It's the 
You can read about topics such as, What is IBS, Signs and Symptoms, Treatment, and Living with IBS. Each of these sections gets into more related detailed topics.

In relation to food, I started reading about the low FODMAP plan. FODMAPs are Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides And Polyols - basically, carboyhdrates that are found in foods. According to Stanford Hospital Digestive Health Center Nutrition Services, FODMAPs are osmotic - meaning they pull water into the intestinal tract, and may not be digested or absorbed well and could be fermented by bacteria in the intestinal tract when eaten in excess. A low FODMAP diet may help reduce symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and cramping. Click HERE for the link to the Stanford report. It also gives you the do's and don'ts for the FODMAP plan: which foods are OK to eat (low FODMAP foods) and which foods to avoid (high FODMAP foods). The International Foundation for Functional Gastroinestinal Disorders (link in previous paragraph) also has information about the FODMAP diet and even has a SYMPTOM DIARY where you can keep track of your food intake and symptoms.

I've started this low-FODMAP eating plan today. You're supposed to stick to it for six to eight weeks and then introduce other foods (the high FODMAP ones) back into your diet one at a time, so we'll see how it goes. I hope to share more with you as time goes on.

This blog post pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion about health and related sub­jects. The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked sites, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with their physician.
Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked sites.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. Weather is supposed to be perfect here: warm and sunny. We have a couple of exciting things planned for this weekend, so I will be sharing with you soon. See you then!