Monday, August 31, 2015

Clean Eating?

I have a food problem. The problem is that I love food so much, so so much, that my cravings are completely in charge. I eat based on whim. So I want to eat three blocks of delicious cheese? Okay. I will. Hungry for salt and vinegar kettle chips? Better try a dozen brands until you find the best out there. No worries. But that is...terrible for you. Majorly terrible.

To add to my problem, I eat when I'm anxious. If I'm eating, I'm concentrating on chewing and deliciousness, not on how I'm about to die because some unseen force is going to destroy me and everyone I love.* That's bad, because when I'm anxious, I go from eating small meals to eating constant meals. As in, I leave the dinner table and munch on chips. Or I come home from work and eat lots of cheese. Or I impulsively buy ice cream on the drive home from work because it will make me feel better. Or I buy a lemon meringue pie and then eat nearly all of it in 48 hours. (Thank goodness Mum wanted a few pieces over that time span, because it would have been ALL of the pie if she hadn't helped.)
As always, The Awkward Yeti understands my life.

But food can't make you feel better. In fact, it usually does the opposite for me. I eat too much junk, then I feel gross. Not guilty (I never feel guilty for eating, which is good I guess?), but sick because I can't digest the same way I used to now that my gallbladder is resting in that giant medical waste dump in the sky.

Here are the food observations I've had in the last month of high-anxiety:
  1. If your life sucks before you eat a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips, it will still suck when the bag of chips is gone.
  2. If you are anxious, you will probably stay that way until your brain decides to be your friend again. Food will not speed this process.
  3. Cheese is really awesome.
  4. Good cheese is expensive.
  5. Expensive cheese is not an everyday sort of treat.
  6. Stop spending $17.00 at the cheese store like it's normal, Laura.
  7. No, really.
I need to make more healthy decisions. Since I suck at self-control, I've decided that these decisions need to happen at work, because there, food is a choice. At home, it's a slot machine. What is there to eat? Who knows. Stick a quarter in the machine (the fridge) and pull the handle to find out! It will be different than what was in there last time you you checked. If you close the refrigerator door and open it right away, it will be different again! Nothing in the fridge is ever the same. Do not trust the fridge. The fridge lies.

So I have decided to do healthy, meatless lunches beginning Monday. I will embrace clean eating at lunch, since breakfast is already good (usually natural peanut butter on whole grain bread). Then, I will be so in love with my new clean-eating lifestyle, it will become second nature and I will become repulsed by fast food. This is totally doable, coming from nowhere without a plan. I mean, I checked out two books from the library. That's all I need, right? If I even succeed in having half of my weekly lunches and dinners healthier, I'll consider it a victory.

I'm thinking I'll be eating a lot of dry lettuce while I figure this thing out.

Seriously, though. This might become something of a challenge for me. I hate beans, so I look at a website that announces yummy meatless meals and...they are all beans. Beans everywhere. What do vegetarians eat when they aren't eating things with beans in?

If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or make lots of meatless meals please give me recipe ideas that do not include beans, lentils, chickpeas, or other hated legumes, because that isn't happening. Also any food blog recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

* Yeah, really. That's anxiety.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Best Cheese Ever: Sartori MontAmoré

Once upon a time, I had dinner at Jazz on the Lawn with my friend Emily, and she brought cheese. Actually this was a few weeks ago, so not really once upon a time, but just recently. And the cheese was the best. The best cheese. There is no other cheese like this cheese.*

Yes, I sometimes have a life. And Emily is a master chef.

I photographed the label. Emily said our grocery store had it in their cheese case, so I went right to the store and bought my own brick of cheese, which I then consumed in less than a week.

Heaven. Heaven in a paper wrapper.

And then I went back to the store for more of the Sartori MontAmoré cheese. Only to find that there was no more cheese. NO MORE CHEESE. Sure, there was lesser, inferior cheese. But that cheese doesn't count. I asked the deli lady whether more of the cheese was coming.

And she said no.

This led me to a sort of massive cheese-related meltdown.

This guy is pointing at my life, in the distance, burning into cinders of cheeselessness.

I went back to the library (I'd gone during lunch to the store), I bemoaned the lack of my delicious MontAmoré cheese. My poor coworker had to listen to me sadly discovering the cheese, while available online on both Sartori's website and, had a shipping cost of $20. Librarians cannot afford that sort of shipping, even for cheese sent to earth by God himself.

Part of my soul crushed like a grape under the wheel of a grocery cart, I took to social media. I hoped that my grocery store chain would hear my misery and decide to order the perfect MontAmoré cheese for all its stores forever. The Sartori people reached out at once, but I would still have to contend with shipping costs...

And then I remembered our local fancy wine and cheese store. I thought, "They aren't a chain--and I bet they'll special order cheese for me if I ask really nicely or maybe offer to marry whoever is working behind the counter!"

I called.

"I need some cheese," I said. "I was wondering if you could order it."

"What kind are you looking for?" The woman at the wine and cheese store seemed nice. I could so marry her, I thought. Plus employee discount on cheese, so match made in heaven.

"Sartori MontAmoré," I replied. "It's from Wisconsin." Maybe I could move to Wisconsin, I thought. Wisconsin is a land of cheese.

"We don't need to order it," she said. "I have three blocks in the fridge. Would you like me to save you some?"



I went home with all of the cheese. I ate one block in less than three days. The other I hoarded for a while, then attacked on Tuesday. It is nearly gone now. It's time for another trip to the wine and cheese store.

And that is why local shops are made of awesome, folks. Shop local, support small businesses, and for goodness sake, buy the cheese if you see it. It is the best cheese ever, and you need that kind of love in your life.

*Again, no one paid me to write this post, because really, I get paid for almost none of the things I do on a daily basis, except for the library things.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Let's Talk Feet

I know, feet are gross. We need to accept this and move on, because your feet are part of you, and they deserve some attention. Especially if you like sandals.

I was at a restaurant the other day, and I looked down when I dropped my napkin. The tables were close enough together that I got a glimpse of the feet of the man at the table next to me. Suddenly, I wanted to burn the napkin, the carpet, and the entire restaurant to the ground. Because his feet were a whole new level of repulsive. I'm talking dry, cracked, calloused heels that have whitened and then picked up filth from the world outdoors...that kind of nasty.

Grossed out yet? I certainly was. I was so grossed out that, on the pretense of throwing away the paper napkin I had dropped, I moved seats so I couldn't see the man's feet anymore. I wish I could forget ever having seen them. But I can't.

When you wear sandals, you need several things:
  1. Clean feet. Wash your feet. Wash your whole self. If your feet look dirty, that means you're dirty. And that is why showers were invented.
  2. Nails that are not yellow, flaky, chipped, or otherwise diseased. Are your nails gross? There's probably a cream for that. Or a pill. Go to the doctor. Your nails are sick, and you need medicine.
  3. Good circulation. If you have bad circulation, you really shouldn't be wearing sandals. It can really screw with your feet, because you don't get support that's good enough. PLUS there are more opportunities for you to injure your feet, which then will not heal properly because bad circulation. Your doctor probably told you this already.
  4. Heels that do not look like a medical experiment gone wrong. Do you spend a lot of time walking? Do you have calloused heels? That is okay. All of us have callouses. It happens. There are methods to deal with this.

Well, I am going to be straight with you and say I am number four. Not like the YA novel, but like, my feet are all dry and gross, no matter what lotion I buy. I have used so many different creams, you have no idea. The hemp one from The Body Shop? Done. Fancy ones from LUSH? Yep. Shea butter? Of course. I have even rubbed olive oil on my toes, then slapped on a pair of socks and nestled my feet under a warm electric blanket in the hope that warmth would help them absorb moisture. Nothing works.

I also have callouses from having weird toes, including one in the center of the ball of my foot that makes it feel like walking on a pebble all the time. No one ever sees this one, but it hurts and I don't like it.

I decided to be a librarian and do extensive research because that is what I do instead of dating people.

It turns out the weird callouses I get on the ball of my foot is because my second toe is longer than my big toe. This is called a Morton's Toe, and it causes all sorts of foot problems all of which may be solved by snapping your toes like matchsticks and resetting them correctly. You still have a Morton's Toe, but the other problems go away. Toe-breaking does not sound like fun to me. I figured I would try another option, one that still left me able to walk. I would remove the callouses. They would come back, but at least no broken bones! I went to Ulta.

There, I found the world's most amazing creation. I have had it for one day and it has already changed my life. If you have not tried it, you MUST. It is a callous shaver. Yes. Words cannot express the weird pleasure of removing your callouses with this thing. It doesn't hurt at all. And, suddenly, you can walk around without pain. I even have less tenderness in my heels. It is like magic. Foot magic.

I am not going to go into the play by play of using this thing, except to say you need to use it in the bathtub or over your trash can or something, because no one wants to sweep up dead skin or worse, find dead skin on the floor abandoned by a family member. Ever seen shaved ice? It is like that, but made of callous. Gross, but pretty awesome.

It's so cool to use this thing, I actually want my callouses to come back so I have more of an excuse to play with my magical new toy of foot magic. I should run more. Running makes my callouses worse. Or I should wear heels. Something. I just really love this toy. It is the best toy.

What it does is give you all the joy of going and having someone else give you a pedicure--without you ever having to be touched by another human being. I've never had a pedicure because I don't like to be touched by strangers, but this is what I imagine a pedicure is like. Like magic. And your feet feel so nice afterwards.

Plus my feet LOOK better. I keep telling my friends and coworkers about how magical this is. It is only $12. It is not a massively-expensive electrical device. It is not a somewhat expensive electrical device. It isn't even an expensive manual device. It is a tiny, cheap little tool, and the blade is even replaceable so after the initial investment, it's still cheap. I am in love.

Another thing I picked up to help my feet feel happier was the Earth Therapeutics Gentle Foot Peel. It is both gross and amazing, just like the callous shaver. Oddly, it has no scent that causes me allergy problems, which must mean it isn't made of petroleum byproducts. This is always a good sign.

After I did this foot treatment, I used bright, happy nail polish to finish my pedicure because clearly I am always wearing my sandals now. Except not really because my toes get cold in air conditioning. And everywhere I go has air conditioning. When I  wear sandals to work I go home with toecicles, which are like icicles made of toes.

So, if you are grossed out by your feet, try this stuff and see how it works. And if you have more ideas for me in my endless quest to have the soft feet of a wealthy courtier, please let me know in the comments. I'm always open to foot care suggestions, especially if they involve magical new pedicure tools I can spend money on.

Because apparently I like spending money on things. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Funnies for Tia

My friend Tia needs funny happy things today, so I decided to assemble as many as possible in one place so that she wouldn't have her Twitter or Facebook feed spammed full of Laura stuff. Because reasons. I cannot find all the sources for these things, so if someone knows them, let me know and I'll attribute things properly.

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(That was just to get your attention.)

I have felt this way about food before. I feel this way about a LOT of food, actually.

A bit of Martin Luther humor for you.

I don't know what is happening in this picture, and I don't want to know.

Here is a picture of a dog wearing a horse mask. This is why the internet was invented.

I love this so much, I printed it out and had it on my wall for several months.



Never has a cat been more angry, or plotting more destruction.

This is an accurate translation.

The only reason to ever visit McDonald's is to get this box and put it on your corgi.

Poor puppy. There is a dude who dresses his dog up like this and then runs and the dog chases him, and then people see and become horrified because it looks like a giant spider and not a dog. I want this costume for my dog. For...reasons.

How helpful.

This poster should be on display in all schools and workplaces. Forget the other poster. The other poster is WRONG.

I have felt this way before. Many times. Usually during childhood when I tried to climb trees or jungle gyms. 


This is my favorite thing that Colonel Sanders ever said about chicken. I choose to believe he DID really say it, because it makes him more awesome than if he really just ate chicken all day while he drank sweet tea.

This poor child. This is why my parents never let us celebrate Halloween. I think they knew I'd make this face.

I don't even know how to explain what is happening in this picture.

When I was a kid we had hamsters. Once one escaped and stole a potato from the potato box, which he somehow managed to open with rodent super-strength, then carried the potato across the house, up onto the sofa, and drug it into the couch cushion where he proceeded to eat/shove into his cheek half of the potato. The remainder he left in the couch. When we woke up we found him outside of the cage, waiting to be put back inside. Several weeks later, we discovered the potato. Did I mention the hamster was named Bilbo? Because he was.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Anxiety Sucks

Anxiety sucks. Mondays have become High Anxiety Days. This isn't because the weekend is over, there is a distinct other reason I'm not going to discuss, but it's sucky all the same and it steals my happy.

I hate that it steals my happy.

I brought myself a nice snack to have as a treat this morning, and I wore my new shirt even though it's too hot to wear it, really. I got myself some water and settled down to work. Usually doing nice things for myself is enough to give me a bit of help...but the anxiety still got me twice in under 15 minutes.

It is enough to make me want to live under a rock. But bookstores don't deliver when your only address is "Under Mossy Rock, Back Garden" unless you are a wizard and it's owl post instead of USPS.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Plant Murder

Today was the sort of day that starts with looking at your house plant and thinking, "I am killing you by accident. Sorry." All of the leaves are dropping off my succulent because it is getting watered too regularly for a desert plant. I am what brings water. So I am the problem here.

My obsessiveness claims another victim.

This is why I cannot do plants. Plants cannot tell you, "I am seriously not thirsty, dude." They just keep drinking until they die, much like humans. This is why I could never keep a Tamagotchi alive. My little frog died every time because I fed it until its bar of food-consumption was full. The poor Tamagotchi was fed to death. It ate and ate until it died.

It would look out of the screen with a sad face, as if to say, "Why Laura? Why? I thought we were BFFs." And I would think, "What the heck is wrong with this thing?" Because I was a kid and didn't understand that you don't keep feeding things until they can't eat any more and then keep trying by holding the food out insistently, begging the thing to keep eating. I did the digital equivalent of sitting on the Tamagotchi's chest while cramming food into its mouth while it pleaded for help. I still feel guilty about unknowingly inflicting torture on that poor imaginary frog.

The internets say I should water my succulent one time per month. I have been watering one time per week. I am a plant-killer. Bringer of death. Destroyer of worlds.

I have decided not to touch it or make direct eye contact for the foreseeable future. I am too dangerous for that kind of one-on-one plant bonding.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Vacation Highlights!

As some of you know, I was on "vacation" last week. The quotes mean I didn't travel anywhere, really. I took a day trip. But really, this was a stay-cation. That's okay.

1. I drank a bubble tea in Saugatuck, Michigan! It was delicious but it contained mango so the day ended with me projectile vomiting in a Menard's bathroom because I am allergic to mango.*

My mum and her sister by the lake.
This is my face before mango was in everything, back when there was beauty in the world.

2. I bought shoes. They are adorable and yes, I can walk in them. The soles are ORANGE.


3. I got the air conditioning in my car mended! And then I found out my rear brakes need replaced, so now that is happening. I will be poor for such a long time.

4. We scraped the house to prep for painting, and I was attacked by a swarm of wasps. I got stung (obviously) and my sting-sites became MASSIVELY swollen and really red and hot and scary, so I had to go to QuickMed.

Day one, when it looked sort-of normal-ish.

5. I was given a temporary tattoo by a doctor and a lot of steroids. A lot a lot. Plus I have to take antihistamines three times a day. And now I have to get tested for allergy to wasp stings, making me the female version of Richard Gansey III from The Raven Cycle. (I would rather be Calla.) That test is on Wednesday. Hooray.

Hard to tell, but this is a 4cm swollen blob of evil. And it BURNS.
I have opted not to show you the other stings, which are on the back of my leg. Not only would photography be next to impossible, I am so not photographing my thigh. Better luck next time, creepy internet people. We are sticking to Victorian-level scandal on this blog. Ankles only.

* Don't worry, I cleaned. I thought I was going to pass out and die, but I scrubbed that bathroom stall until it shone. That bathroom was nicer when I left it than it was when I walked inside.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In Which Laura Is Viciously Attacked.

I took a week off from work to help Mum with some things she's been working on around the house. Also I wanted to be free of work, since the summer reading program has ended, and now is a good time to detox from the crazy schedule we keep during summer activities and settle back into the normal library year, school visits, ordering books, preparing story hours, and so forth.

The first official day of my vacation, I got the air conditioning fixed in my car. This was brilliant. Now I can drive all over...except I can't because my rear brakes are making a clicking noise. Why all the noise, car? Why so much clicking? Mum and I spent the afternoon picking up color samples for paint and laminate to go on the top of the new bathroom vanity/sink thingy. Also we scheduled someone to come measure for said vanity/sink thingy.

Then yesterday we decided we would scrape one side of the house, prime, and paint it. This was an easy job because our house is only one story. So we set to work. The Brother and I did awesome. We laughed. We had a good time. The cabinet man came to measure. We kept working. Darcy came out and sniffed a plant. We kept scraping. She avoided crossing the line of plants to come see me, but we kept scraping. Then I took a step to the right and felt something stab me.

And then I was covered with wasps.

There were at least twenty just on my leg, and a cloud of them surrounded me. I took off screaming a high-pitched soprano scream, running like mad, using all the speed training I did during the miserable winter on the treadmill.

I was very lucky.

I did not stand ON the nest. Our work must have disturbed the wasps, but it did not involve us putting a foot into their hole in the ground. It was still early morning and quite cool, so they were more sedate. Only part of the hive came out, and most did not pursue me in my mad dash across the yard.

I was wearing long pants. The wasp stinger had to get through dense Lucky Brand denim with NO STRETCH. This meant they didn't hit me quite so hard as they could have, if I'd worn shorts to work on the house.

I, while covered in wasps, was only stung three times. THREE. That is so lucky. They were all over my legs, on my shirt, in my hair, and I only got hit three times with their nasty butt-daggers. I am allergic to everything and the last wasp sting I got made me long for the hospital and a Benadryl drip, but I got one minor sting, one medium sting, and one severe. Just one.

We were also at home, so I could strip, jump into a bathtub filled with baking soda, take Benadryl, use my inhaler, and make a baking soda paste to stick on the stings when I got back out of the water. By the afternoon, I was doing okay. By dinner time, I was back to normal. After dinner, I went on a long bike ride with Mum and Dad.

It could have been so much worse. Even if now I'm afraid of everything that makes a buzzing noise, including small electronics.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Gran's Wool Skirts

My gran was from the north of England. Once, when she went back, she went to a wool mill in Wales, where she bought lovely wool fabric for skirts. She went home and made up three skirts for herself. She wore them until her health was too poor for her to redo them to fit again, and they went into the closet in a clothes bag. Before she passed away, she gave them to me and Mum to rework for ourselves.

We are procrastinators, so they stayed in the bag. I wasn't feeling well myself at that point--something we later discovered to be gallbladder disease--and didn't press the issue of alteration because I felt gross and unhealthy and wasn't the weight I wanted to be at all. When the gallbladder came out and my body became normal again, I'd bring it up, I thought.

Well, finally we pulled them out again and they aren't the wrong size anymore. They are perfectly fitted as if they were designed for me, which is pretty amazing considering that these were made decades ago to fit someone almost a foot shorter than I am.

See? I took a terrible picture for you in my mirror with my cell phone. But the skirt fits perfectly! This is the one that needs no work at all. The plaid fabric close-up I put at the top of the post is of this skirt. I love these boots with this one and the brown plaid, which needs a new hook and eye closure because the eye fell off and the hook has nothing to connect to. So we have to stop by the store to pick one up. (Hopefully a decent one made of good stuff, not of plastic and despair like the awful button kit from the headboard making adventure last month.)

The third skirt, a brown herringbone tweed, has pockets. POCKETS. Mum and I are going to raise the hem on that one a bit (just to the knee), so I can wear it with my new awesome shoes I picked up in Michigan over the weekend.

It will also look epic with my shorter brown boots. Or with the Frye Campus boots I've wanted for ages. Maybe this is the good reason I've needed to start saving my pennies for a pair of my own.

Mum had a pair, but she GOT RID OF THEM. Why would you ever get rid of Frye boots? I am wearing these until they have to be pried off my cold dead feet.

Do you have any suggestions for awesome outfits I can put together with these skirts? I've been looking at lightweight sweaters that people tuck in, blouses with Peter Pan collars--when am I not looking at those?--looser knit shirts, and chambray. I'd love some suggestions.