Monday, September 30, 2013


i can't stop sneezing. allergies, i'm assuming. today i rinsed with the neti pot and then sat out on the steps in the sun. it felt good. then i saw that floating morning glory and had to snap a picture. i planted the original plant our first year gardening, and more and more come up every year.

i've got some healthy snacks drying in the dehydrator - cheesy kale chips and rainbow flax crackers. i'm excited to see how the flax crackers turn out. i tried to recreate doctor in the kitchen's savory flax crackers with added vegetables, inspired by carmella's rainbow flax crackers.

now john's sneezing, too. and just yesterday i was thinking that we all got away easy this fall. think again, kelli!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

my experience with interstitial cystitis

interstitial cystitis - i've mentioned it here a few times but never bothered to really explain it. truth is, i still don't understand it, nor do i believe i "have it". urologists admittedly have no firm grasp on it, either, which brings me back to 2008, when my life was hell and i was peeing fire.

experience incessant pain in my you-know-what. seek medical attention. test negative for urinary tract infection. take doctor prescribed combination pain killer/antibiotic anyway. end up with yeast infection from the antibiotic. curse living. go back to the doctor for more meds.

and so the torture went. i saw a handful of doctors over the course of a few months and even went to the emergency room because the burning was so awful. they all gave me something that helped the pain temporarily (and turned my pee bright orange), but none seemed willing to help me heal.

then i got my first big piece of the puzzle. my regular gyno was out of the office so i (reluctantly) saw the nurse midwife instead. i'm so glad i did, because she was the only one to give me some information instead of a prescription. she asked me questions, listened attentively, and said my symptoms sound like interstitial cystitis. she then urged me to heal myself by changing my diet.

haaaa-lelujah! this was the start of my natural healing journey (which then sparked my animal-friendly eating). after cutting out the acidic items found on the problematic foods list, my inflammation began to heal, and soon my symptoms were completely gone!

since i felt cured, i went off my diet. but then some time in 2011, the symptoms came back. not wanting to see another doctor or medicate with pharmacy drugs, i found a urinary tract support tea with cornsilk, couchgrass, uva ursi, and rosehips that helped the pain. then i read about plantain tea and to my amazement, found plantain growing all over my yard!

with herbal teas and loosely avoiding "problematic foods", i was able to stay relatively pain-free, only needing plantain tea about once or twice a month for minor discomfort - the burnsies, i call it. then in february of 2013, i experienced the worst flare-up i'd had in years.

my diet leading up to the flare-up wasn't the best and i knew it. with the holidays and cold winter months, i was eating pretty much anything and everything. my lax eating was reeking havoc on my digestive system, and there were times my bloated belly looked five months pregnant.

enter a slew of information and a radical diet transformation. this is where it gets interesting. something told me to look into oxalates. the term kept popping up everywhere. apparently they are found heavily in spinach, quinoa, almonds and kiwi, foods that i was consuming almost daily.

calcium oxalate crystals in urine

oxalates are naturally-occuring molecules found in many plants and animals that are indigestible to humans. in a healthy gut, they should stay in the g.i. tract and pass through to the stool. but under certain conditions, they can link up with calcium and crystallize. the crystals can be quite irritating and painful to tissues where they cause or increase inflammation. some have even described them as tiny shards of glass. (see picture above).

sources say a lack of calcium and magnesium can cause oxalate issues (weird because they say oxalates link up with calcium to form the crystals. see, it's confusing). our water is filtered of everything, including those beneficial minerals, and it's always been on my mental list of things to do to find a mineral supplement. i now supplement, but i could probably do better with that. 

a leaky gut can also cause oxalate problems. with the way my stomach was feeling, i knew something wasn't right with my digestive system. so i put myself on a "clean", low-oxalate diet free of processed foods, gluten and high oxalate greens, nuts, grains, and fruit. i was also mindful to chew my food thoroughly, because digestion starts in the mouth.

for a month pretty much all i ate was red lentils, avocado, white rice, mushrooms, peas, pumpkin seeds and nutritional yeast. i also supplemented with raw enzymes and probiotics, magnesium, calcium and herbal teas: marshmallow, uva ursi, plantain, and juniper berry*. the urinary symptoms quickly subsided though i felt discomfort in my lower back. oxalate build-up is what usually causes kidney stones, so i may have been passing mini stones. it could also have had something to do with the muscles, as i remember feeling like i pulled something doing some yoga stretches.

some people wanted to know why i didn't just go to the doctor?! once i got the pain under control, i didn't feel as though i needed to seek medical attention. i watched for the signs of infection and trusted in the sources that were helping me to heal naturally. my chiropractor assured me that the body knows what to do to heal. with my experience going to doctors for tests back in 2008, i didn't feel they would help me much anyway, though i am looking for a naturopathic doctor in the area to assess where i am now, feeling pretty good but experiencing minor irritation here and there.

my mom would tell me she thought i was eating too many greens. too many greens?! impossible, i'd say! turns out she was right. mother's intuition. eat with awareness. everything in moderation.

though i still eat greens (moderately), i no longer consume spinach, as its oxalate content is through the roof. what's interesting is spinach always left a weird feeling in my mouth and it would never grow in our garden. signs not to eat it! and though i once used to love quinoa (also high in oxalates), the flavor started to taste different to me.

i'm not saying spinach or quinoa is bad for you! there are many nutritional benefits to both, and your body may be fine with processing oxalates. i'm sharing this because it was reading all sorts of health testimonials that led me to some answers for myself on my own healing journey.

if you would like to try a low oxalate diet to see if it helps your cystitis symptoms, the most extensive oxalate list can be found within the trying low oxalates yahoo group. warning: when you join the group, you will get every email correspondence between the members. there is a way to stop it, but i couldn't figure it out. but i'm also still in the 90's when it comes to computer skills.

*please use herbal teas with caution. pregnant women are advised not to use uva ursi, plantain or juniper berry, as well as other teas, so check with a trusted source before trying them.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

kale salad with olives and bruschetta

sweet baby jane, this kale salad is GOOD! there's just something about the combination of kale and sicilian olives that i'm crazy for. i crave this salad. the best part, it's so easy to throw together! plus it's nutritious, so i don't feel bad eating big bowls of it two nights in a row right before bed.=)

to make this savory delight, start by cleaning and de-stemming a bunch of kale. add a few pinches of salt, a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil, juice from half a lemon, and massage your kale until each piece is saturated. top with bruschetta (chopped tomato, basil and garlic) and sliced olives and you're ready to go! i like to let my salad sit in the fridge a few hours for the best flavor.

to balance the saltiness, add dried figs, currants or raisins (which i was unfortunately out of the third time around.) too bad our fig tree hasn't given us enough for leftovers to dry. but figgy's still a baby, four or five i think.

how do you feel about kale? delicious and nutritious? over it? only in chip form? (that's what john thinks). personally i love kale in all forms, in moderation. i did overdo it a little and got sick of kale for a while. also, greens are high in oxalates, which are no good for cystitis sufferers. i still need to tell you more about that.

happy wednesday!


Monday, September 23, 2013

weekend snapshots

happy autumn! the weather's been perfect for planting pansies and cleaning up the garden. this weekend i switched out my bathing suits for sweaters and did some fall cleaning. i hung the wreath my mom and stepdad made us from sticks in their yard. in between vacuuming and laundry, i took a break on the patio with my new library book and a smoothie john made us from a watermelon we finally picked and cucumbers. september is sweet. i hope you are enjoying it, too.=)


Saturday, September 21, 2013

a true teacher

"you guys are so silly, with your pretty little bottles of goop. think about it! you strip your face of all its beneficial oils, then try to replace those oils by slathering on those chemical lotions..." but he would say it in sing-song - slathering on those chemical lotions - while mimicking a teen slopping goo on his face, nose crinkled in exaggerated disgust.

dr. pollack was hilarious, and so right. those animated rants glittering twelfth grade anatomy and physiology held so much truth. at the time, i thought he was a bit of a kook. the man didn't wear deodorant, claiming the aluminum in antiperspirants caused cancer. "besides", he'd emphasize, "you are supposed to sweat. you're eliminating toxins!". the guy also ate chalk the first week of expose the truth about tums...but still! (seventeen year old me rolling my eyes).

now i realize what a brave and brilliant doctor he was. while we were being brainwashed to believe only oxi-pads and noxzema would bring us clear skin, that benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid would kill that zit-causing bacteria, dr. p mocked those commercials (shown during our school's morning announcements!) and urged us to change our diets, to stop consuming so much sugar, soda and dairy. "it's what you eat that is causing the break-outs!", he'd cry in frustration.

i didn't listen. i, like, loved milk and soda. milk did a body good. soda was ok once a day. and give up candy? is he crazy? i think it was on the way to dr. pollack's class that i stopped at the school store for my midday dose of high fructose corn syrup. (so nice of the schools to supply us our fix!)

dr. pollack was a chiropractor (not a real doctor i would think. oh i was a pistol!). he knew and taught us things we needed to know. he warned us of the dangers of olestra and aspartame and other artificial ingredients in diet foods (which i instantly filtered as rubbish, innocently believing such toxins would never be allowed on the market.) i didn't listen until john came along almost ten years later and pried the baby blue packets from my beet red fists. (ha, not really, but kind of.=)

thank you, dr. p, for the seeds you planted have blossomed! i stopped using antiperspirant years ago, my face wash is simply h2o, and i question everything that goes in and on my body. i don't know about the rest of the class, but i think you'd be happy to know you got through to at least one of your silly students. and like you, she aims to sow the seeds of truth in the youth.=)

p.s. you should have told us how aspartame is made from genetically engineered bacteria feces. i'm thinking that bit of information could have stopped my gum chewing habit. ha, probably not.

Friday, September 13, 2013

summer highlights

sunflower with bees/blueberries at the community garden

 our new patio/kati lounging/the butterfly garden

my brother during a visit with my family to the community garden/a handful of figs from our tree/
kati sleeping in the butterfly garden

a bushel of organic corn from the csa - the week we were encouraged to take extra=)

summer 2013 treated us well.
most days were nice and slow, though it went by so quick. 
how does that happen?

sad to see summer go, though looking forward to craft shows and crisp walks over crunchy leaves.
savoring these warm days and chilly nights. 
happy weekend, friends.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

what we've been eating

on monday, i went to the chiropractor and stopped at my favorite store, natural health. they had these organic tortillas that i knew would be useful with all the different types of peppers we've got. we don't buy dairy products often, but when we do we try to get organic. i picked up a mexican blend of organic cheeses and made my flavorful four-bean vegan chili with quesadillas.

tuesday we had leftover chili mixed with cooked rice i had saved in the freezer and rice chips. to help with the issues beans can cause, i take raw digestive enzymes with my meal. the capsules contain alpha-galactosidase, which is the key ingredient in beano. they work really well for me.

tonight was another quick dinner because i did the prepping beforehand. the kale was chopped and massaged with olive oil, salt and lemon this morning. the ingredients for the eggplant red pepper dip were roasted and frozen over the weekend (i threw them in when i had a pizza in the oven). all i had to do for this meal was defrost and blend the veggies for the dip in a food processor.

the crackers are almond nut thins with flax. we try to avoid gmo wheat and gluten in general, though i realize that all of these processed gluten-free chips and crackers are probably not the most nutritious. the alternative to these meals could be much worse, so we just do our best.

what have you been eating?

Monday, September 9, 2013

flynn, the blue-eyed beauty

don't tell kati, but i've fallen in love with another cat. his name is flynn and he belongs to my dad's neighbor. but look at those blue eyes! and he's so soft, i couldn't keep my hands off! he and his fur-brother raz visit my dad's for some peace and quiet (they live with two young boys and a dog).

my niece alaina gave flynn one of my old troll dolls to play with. (my sister and i had quite the collection. did you collect trolls? for a while i was a little obsessed, but not as much as this lady.) apparently i have a thing for furry, fuzzy creatures!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

happy saturday

hello friends! today i got new jeans in the mail and as you can see, i'm excited! it had been years since i bought myself a decent pair of pants. these are joe jeans that go for around $150 in stores and guess what...i got them for $15 on ebay, with free shipping! that's like a 90% discount!

in the garden, we've still got sunflowers and a few watermelons growing. i was late planting the melons. i'm late with my fall crops too, though the peas i planted last month are looking good.

i finally got around to making my peach pepper jam. this morning i tried it on a sesame bagel with cream cheese. i was afraid my jam was going to be too spicy, but it actually has hardly any heat at all. weird because when i did a taste test it was way too hot. hmph.

john made us dinner the other night and it was delicious! sauteed portabellos and bell pepper with a side of guacamole and vegetarian baked beans. i have been a lazy jane in the kitchen around dinner time. i'd much rather come home and lounge around with a book.

yesterday i started to read hiroshima by john hersey and i feel compelled to say a little something about war. first, at its core, war is against all that we are at our core. the suffering created by bombs and attacks is unbelievably cruel and inhumane. i actually had to stop reading the book because i was too upset. i am praying very hard for peace in the middle east, because it's all i know to do about it at this point. i know many others are too, and that leaves me feeling hopeful.

a war can not be fought if we all refuse to fight. it's all a choice. love or fear, we choose.

sending lots of love to you and yours. xoxoxo
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