Thursday, June 18, 2015


As many of you know, my sweetheart is from Tonga and he often craves Tongan food, or at least something from some islands.  I have a wonderful Filipino friend, Mildred, who brought Pancit (a dish of rice noodles, veggies, and chicken) to a barbeque once, and my husband almost left me for her (which would have made things awkward, since she's happily married ...)  

A couple of friends have asked for directions on this recipe, which I learned from Mildred.  She very graciously took an afternoon to teach me how to make this wonderful dish.

This picture is not mine (because I didn't get a picture of it before my family ate it all), but it is very similar to when I make it.  I did grab a few pictures while I was cooking, but didn't get the whole process.  I'll do my best to describe it!

You can customize this to suit your tastes; my husband and I prefer more meat and veggies than the above picture, so I use a lot.

I'm not cool enough to make a printable version of this, so you're on your own there.  :P

We're going to start by boiling our meat and creating the stock we'll cook everything else in.  This time, I used chicken leg quarters, because that's what was cheapest.  Bone-in meat gives a better flavor, but the skin adds to the fat content of the dish.  I boiled them with skin on and then removed and deboned the meat.  Boneless skinless thighs are easier and still have a great flavor; I usually prefer eating white meat chicken, but this dish is so much better with dark meat.

In a large stock pot, place your meat and cover with water.  You're going to need 2-3 quarts of stock at the end, so don't be shy about the water.  Add about 1/4 cup of GOOD dark soy sauce and 2 chicken flavored Knorr cubes.  Don't use Kikkoman, it doesn't work in this recipe (we tried it once, blech).  Turn on high and boil until chicken is cooked through.

While chicken is boiling, in an extremely large skillet or electric skillet, put about 2-3 Tbs of vegetable oil and heat over medium heat.  Smash 6-8 garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife, peel the skin, and put them in the oil.  Brown the garlic until slightly caramelized.  

While waiting for the chicken and garlic to cook, we're going to cut up the rest of the veggies.  

We cheat with the carrots; you'll use about half of a pound of shredded carrots.  I sliced up 2 or 3 onions for this.  You can add more if you like, or less if onions aren't your thing.  You need some onion flavor though.  Also roughly chop half a head of green cabbage and 3-4 stalks of celery.

At this point, your chicken should be done.  If it's not quite cooked through, it's OK because we're going to cook it again in a minute.  So pull it out to cool and let the stock cool as well.

When the garlic is starting to caramelize, add just the onion and cook until it starts to brown.

At this point, your chicken should be ready to handle.  Chop it up and add it to the garlic and onions, cooking it long enough to get a little crispy brown.

When the chicken and onions and garlic are brown and delicious, start adding the other veggies, in this order:  Celery, cabbage, and carrots.  Then add about 2 cups of stock (this doesn't need to be measured).

Now, the stock we made should be pretty tasty, but the sweetness in the veggies sometimes reduces that flavor.  After the veggies have cooked for a couple minutes, grab a spoon and taste the stock that is in the skillet.  If it's not salty enough, add a little more of the dark soy sauce, then taste again.  You'll need to taste again after we add the noodles, so keep some clean spoons nearby.

After the veggies have cooked 5-6 minutes and are about done, pull out about half of the contents of the skillet and set aside.  It's time to add the noodles.

This brand was just what the Asian Market had; I buy whatever is cheap.  Take it out of the package and, if yours has string holding it together like mine, take the string off.  Put the noodles into the skillet and add more stock, about 2 cups.  

This is the part I wish I had pictures of -- the noodles soak up that stock and cook in it and, as they do, the "ball" of noodles starts separating.  Help them along with a large spoon.  Taste the stock again and make sure it is salty enough.  Add a little stock at a time (1/4 cup) until all the noodles are separated and cooked.  You don't want them swimming in the liquid, but there does need to be enough so they aren't dry or sticking to the pan.

The noodles are just a long mess, so now we'll grab a pair of kitchen shears and cut them into smaller, more manageable pieces.  Pull them up with a spaghetti fork and start cutting!  You only need to make 10-12 cuts.  Mix the noodles and meat and veggies in the pan as best you can.

Add the reserved veggies and meat to the top, serve, and enjoy!

Pancit ingredients (serves 4-8 depending on hunger)
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 Knorr cubes, chicken flavor
Dark soy sauce
6-8 cloves garlic
2-3 onions
4-6 stalks celery
1/2 head of cabbage
matchstick carrots

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

That Magic Spot

So, when I was working out hard a couple of years ago, I never lost a pound.  I was lifting heavy (could squat 135 pounds, which was amazing for a fat 30-something woman) and was hungry all the time.  So even though I was burning calories like crazy, I was also eating a LOT.

Here's a vulnerable thing:  I have binge eating disorder.  So my previous pattern while working out was eating well for a day or two, and then bingeing (up to 5000 calories in one day) for a day or two, or a week.  It was impossible to make progress with losing weight.  Over the last year, I've been much more aware of what I'm eating because I worked with a health and nutrition coach at the school during fall semester.  So the binges got fewer and farther between, until I really wasn't cyclical bingeing anymore.

That's why, when I decided to start making changes this year, I started with my diet.

I started adding veggies and fruits to get 3-5 servings a day.  This has been made easier with Thrive freeze dried foods, because they don't go bad before I get to them.  (If you need a consultant, let me know, I have an amazing one.)

Then after I had added more fruits and veggies, I started weaning off of Pepsi.  I'm completely and totally addicted to it, and I know soda isn't really all that great for my body.  So I started weaning off of it.  I have about 8-12 ounces every 3 days now, which is much better than 32-64 ounces a DAY.

After I had a better handle on the Pepsi, I started tracking my caloric intake.  I use an app from , where you can plug in your goals and it gives you a daily calorie target, and I started actually measuring foods.  Half a cup of cold cereal is a lot less than most people think.  I haven't worried so much about WHAT I'm eating as much as exactly how much I'm eating.  If I want a cupcake, I'm going to eat a cupcake, as long as I'm staying within my calories and eat plenty of fruits, veggies, and protein.

The first few days were the hardest, and they weren't even that bad.  After I successfully stayed at or just under my calorie target for a week, I started exercising again.  At that point, I double checked my basic metabolic rate with the calorie counter from to make sure I was getting enough but not too many calories.

The last few days have been rough on an emotional level for me.  I've wanted to binge, but I haven't.  And I'm so proud of myself for that.  I skipped yesterday's workout but did it today, and will count yesterday as my rest day.

I am not working out so much that I am STARVING all the time, and I'm still able to stay within my calorie range.  It's what I'm calling that magic spot, because I'm getting stronger, my muscles are getting more defined, the fat is melting off of me, and I feel satisfied and full.  It really is like Magic.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Not to jinx myself or anything ...

I'm working out again and rather enjoying it.

It started a few weeks ago, when the teen and I went to an event where we had to climb about 95 flights of stairs without stopping (OK, it was more like ... 4 very tall flights).  We got to the top, sat down for a short presentation, and I ... well, the thought that flashed through my mind was, "Great.  I'm going to pass out.  The only nurse in the room, and I'm going to pass out."

I was having a hard time catching my breath.  My breathing was so labored and noisy that I couldn't even hear the speaker.

About the time I caught my breath, it was time to go down all those stairs again.  Going down was much easier, but I was still a bit short of breath at the bottom.

I knew I was out of shape.  It did not hit me until that day just how not in shape I was.  Even though I'd worked with an awesome health coach over the course of last fall semester, and even though I knew it was hard keeping up with some of my nurses, and even though I'm in the biggest size I've ever worn in my life.  I didn't realize how bad off I was.

I started by trying to eat less.  I'm not sure if it worked, because I wasn't keeping track.  But I was much more aware of what I was putting into my mouth.

At swimming lessons with my kids the last two weeks, I've been in the pool with the toddler for half an hour a day, helping him swim.  I remembered how much I love swimming, and if someone at the pool is going to judge me for being fat and wearing a bathing suit, they can go to hell.  I LOVE swimming and my kids love it and we get to have fun together, regardless of what other people might think of my body!

The same two weeks, I discovered some free kettlebell workouts that I love, and did them 5 or 6 times over the course of those same two weeks.  I've gone walking instead of bingeing when my emotions are out of control.  And I started tracking my calories with an app on my phone.

All of this started one step at a time.

I've tracked calories here and there, and I've worked out HARD for quite a while, and I've gone walking and played with my kids and ... something is different this time.  Something inside me said, "No more!  You ARE taking care of you, or you won't be around much longer!"

Those kettlebell workouts on Youtube are done by the couple behind Fitness Blender.  So I signed up for their free website and free smart phone app, and got started this week with an 8-week fat loss program.  I'm surprised I can type today because I did a brutal upper body workout this morning!  I'm looking forward to tomorrow's workout, and the day after that and the day after that ... because you know what?  I deserve to feel good about myself and feel good physically!

As of yesterday, I am 15 pounds below my highest weight (pregnant or not, it was the same).  I still have a long road ahead, but I'm on my way.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Shame, Shame, Shame

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed today and came across a post from a friend who linked a recipe to a dessert.  Two friends commented it looked good.  The third?  "Fattening ladies ..." with a passive-aggressive smiley face.

Sorrynotsorry, that triggered something in me.

So I replied.

"Eat a cookie. It won't kill you. Or make you fat. Eating more calories than you burn is what is fattening. Sure, there are more nutrient dense foods to eat, but uh ... it is possible to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight and be fit and still have the damn cookie."

Because I'm at a point in my life where I just have to say:  STOP THE SHAMING.  Who gives a rat's ass if someone else decides to eat a cookie?  Really?  If you have that much time to worry about other people's food choices, you have far bigger issues with your life.

Food shaming, fat shaming, behavior shaming, parents shaming other parents, parents shaming their children ... it all really amounts to the same thing: It is all bullying. And it needs to stop.  Now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What would you do?

This post is NOT about general gun rights or concealed permits.  It is about when to say, "This is no longer safe."

I'm acquainted with an elderly man who owns several guns and has a concealed carry permit.  He bonds with family members over weapons and safes and target practice for recreation.  These guns are not used to hunt to provide food for the family.

When he first started collecting, he made sure they were put away in the gun safe and that the gun safe was locked and everyone was safe.

Things have changed.

He has had dementia for several years, and it is progressing.  His decline has come with cognitive deficits and he now sometimes forgets to close the safe ... and/or the garage where the safe is ... which means the guns and ammunition are accessible to anyone in the neighborhood -- children, criminals, depressed people, whoever.  He has frequent visitors to his home, including children, one of whom is very curious and has cognitive delays.

In the last few months, he has unknowingly misplaced at least two of his weapons, which were located by family members who share his home.  One was a loaded handgun, found on the floor of the garage.  The other was a rifle.  He didn't miss the loaded handgun for a couple of days and still has no idea the rifle is not in the safe (although he misplaced it and then went out of town and is not home yet).

This person has expressed his own concern when he has learned that people with mental illness have owned guns, but if anyone suggests that his gun ownership might not be safe anymore, he perceives that as an attack on him as a person.  Not on the disease that is taking over his brain.  He very much has emotional ties to his perception of himself as a safe gun owner and cannot view this problem from a rational perspective.

This is beyond gun rights:  This is a safety and liability issue.  It is worse than if a gun owner doesn't have a safe -- he counts on the fact that everything is locked up, but he is not really locking them up.  If someone were to come across that open safe and steal one (or all) of the weapons registered to his name and later use that weapon to commit a crime, he would have some liability.  So would his wife.  One of the small children who visits his home could unintentionally kill themselves or someone else.

If this was your father, brother, uncle, grandpa, friend, when would you say enough is enough?  And how would you facilitate the change and still allow him to have his dignity?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What I Have in Common with the Duggars

Before I start, I offer this disclaimer:  I have only ever seen a few episodes of their TLC show and I don't have strong opinions about the family in general.  I am Christian but I don't necessarily agree with their politics or their specific belief system, and they likely do not agree with mine.

The world is talking about Josh Duggar and his sins (the ones we know about anyway) and his victims (again, the ones we know about).  Some stand in support of Josh and his parents and their decisions, and many are appalled at the cover up and the apparent lack of help provided to the victims.  I'm hearing a lot of judgment and not much compassion for an awful, awful situation, for any of the parties involved (parents, Josh, victims).

Since the story broke, I've been fighting with myself about whether to say anything about my story or not.  I finally decided to break the silence, in the hope of helping some of those who are so judgmental (on either side of the issue) understand there is so much more here than Josh OR his victims OR their parents seemingly choosing their son over their daughters.  It is ALL of them and so much more.

*taking a deep breath and hoping I don't puke when I hit publish*

Thirty-something years ago, I was the victim of child-on-child molestation.  I had two different perpetrators in my childhood, one related to me and one not related to me.  It actually happened over a few years, in two different states.  My parents had no idea any of this happened at the time, and until I hit publish on this thing, I'm not even sure my dad was ever told about any of the sexual abuse I suffered as a child.  I don't know where the non-relative ended up in life, but I do know where the relative is.

Here's the thing:

This relative has apologized to their victims and done what the perpetrator felt necessary to make things right.  They have gone on to have a productive life and sought counseling as an adult.  I firmly believe that the children born to this person are in no danger of sexual abuse from their parent.  [edit:  I don't believe any child is in danger from this person, but the focus has been on Josh and his children and whether they are in danger, so that is what I focused on while writing this piece.]

Like my relative, Josh apologized to his victims.  Whether you agree with his politics or not, he has a job, he provides for his family, and he has done what he felt necessary to move on with his life.  Maybe he still needs counseling, but he has tried to own up to his sins.

Here's the other thing:

As an adult, THIRTY YEARS LATER, this past abuse still has affected me.  I have been through a LOT of therapy over the years, and the trauma was still there.  It affected my relationship with my abuser, during every interaction we had.  I didn't know why I was so angry at that person, because they did apologize at some point in my adulthood and I did forgive them, but the trauma was STILL there.  Thirty-something years later.

Because forgiveness doesn't mean the past is erased or that the hurt is gone, or that you trust them and feel safe with them.  All it means is that you are *willing* to cease to feel resentment against your offender -- it doesn't mean that happens overnight or anything else we sometimes think forgiveness means.  (Someday soon, I'll post about why forgiveness and trust are separate issues.)

When you believe you have forgiven someone who has hurt you so undeniably and indescribably, it is absolutely devastating to wake up one day and realize that the things someone did to you so long ago are still affecting your sexuality and your decisions and the way you respond to your spouse both in and out of the bedroom and the way you interact with and interpret the world.

One of the difficulties with child-on-child familial sexual abuse lies in the fact that the family still loves both the perpetrator and the victim and wants everyone to be happy and together.  And sometimes it's hard to see what to do when you love both of those people so much.

However, expecting the victim to have a relationship with their perpetrator can cause more problems than people realize ... problems for both the victim and the perpetrator, because the relationship is so complex, so incomprehensible, and can be so destructive, even if that is not the way either party wishes it could be.  And continuing that relationship is something that my abuser expected of me for years, until I finally cracked and walked away.

Oftentimes, the family pushes the issue of continuing the relationship for the sake of convenience and "keeping the peace."  The Duggar parents' decision to keep law enforcement out of it necessitated Josh's victims seeing him every day, and gave him opportunities to continue the abuse.  They eventually sent him away for several months, although personally I don't think that would have been long enough, especially without intensive therapy for Josh AND all of his victims.  However, it did give them a break from seeing their abuser every day.

In the process of walking away, I hurt my abuser, too.  Not something I'm proud of.  But the distance has been absolutely necessary for my sanity.

I've been in therapy for a long time now, with an amazing therapist.  I'm not ready to face my abuser yet, and they aren't ready to deal with me either.  And that's totally OK.  We may never have a relationship again.  Or, someday, both of us might get to a point where we can talk and move past our trauma.  Either way really is OK.

The Duggar girls ... I would hope that, at this point, they have the freedom to set the parameters of whatever relationship they have with Josh, whether that means they have no relationship or there is distance or what have you.  Because it really needs to be on their terms in order for them to feel safe and heal.

I'm not posting this story to single out my abuser or embarrass anyone.

I'm posting this because I believe that the Duggar parents love their daughters just as much as they still love their son, just as my family still loves me and my abuser.

The Duggars were faced with a tragic situation and they made the decisions they felt were best, even if a large portion of the rest of the world disagrees with their decisions.  From everything I've heard, his therapy and his victims' therapy was likely woefully inadequate.  I sincerely hope that Josh is at a place in his life where his children are safe.  It is completely and entirely possible, especially since he confessed to his wife long before they even got married.  If he was still harboring intent to harm, he likely would have kept it a secret.

So yes.  I have something in common with the Duggars:  The girls who were Josh's victims.  I am 100% sure they still love their brother just as I still love my relative.  I am also certain the hurt isn't gone, not completely.  The pain may be simmering beneath the surface, and they may not even be aware it exists.  I hope the girls do seek out the counseling and therapy they are going to need throughout their lives, and I hope that they are able to release the trauma before it explodes and before 30 years have passed.  And if not, I hope they are able to be strong enough to take the steps necessary for them to heal and that their family supports their decisions, because they are all going to need love, support, compassion, and empathy ... even Josh.