Friday, April 19, 2019

My Favorite Low FODMAP Meals & A One Year Update

I'm getting close to my one year anniversary with the Low FODMAP diet, so I thought I'd share an update! This will be massively uninteresting unless your stomach hurts all the time, so apologies in advance. :D

Of course I'm not a doctor or expert, so here's the usual disclaimer: never trust anything I say without doing your own research. (Monash University invented the diet, so start there. Then download the $8 Monash app for your phone, because it's worth it.) Most of what I've learned is pretty standard stuff, though, so I'm not going to throw anything crazy at you.

I'm feeling even better since my first (and only?) mention of Low FODMAP here last July. I can still say Low FODMAP has saved me from a life of constant stomach pain, plus a whole battery of invasive GI tests. It's also fairly easy to try and a low financial commitment, so I *highly* recommend it if you're hurting. I still have setbacks when I slip up and eat something I shouldn't - and I'll be honest, those setbacks hurt more than they did before I started LF - but overall I feel pretty great, and I can eat a lot more now than you'd think. I can even eat at a lot of restaurants!

In case you're not familiar with it, Low FODMAP is an elimination diet meant to treat all forms of IBS and GI discomfort, like reflux. It is NOT a weight loss diet. It helps you ID what types of foods cause you pain, and then avoid them. Boom bada boom.

On paper you're only supposed to be strictly LF for about 6 weeks, then you start re-introducing problem foods one at a time. I stayed in the elimination phase for 6 months, which is NOT recommended, but I was both lazy & hit a lot of setbacks. In fact I'm *still* in the re-introduction phase, so I haven't tested some foods like honey or garlic yet. I'll get to them eventually, but for now I've cleared my highest priority foods, wheat and avocado, so I'm pretty content.

 (John says this post needs more pictures. How'd I do?)

One important thing you should know is that FODMAPs are not allergens. I'm not allergic to my trigger foods, I'm simply intolerant of them. There's a big difference. It means a tiny bit of your trigger food usually won't cause a bad reaction. (Contrast that with a gluten allergy, where even cross-contamination is a danger.) FODMAPs are more about the level of exposure and how much you eat. That's not true for everyone, of course, but overall it helps to remember this when you're feeling overwhelmed: This is not an allergy. It's OK if you miss a little something sometimes. Just do your best and odds are you'll still find relief.

I mention this because I've seen too many people get overwhelmed by all the restrictions and quit before they even start. Research and preparation is great, but you can get stuck there, and the more you read about all the stuff you CAN'T eat, the more intimidated you'll get. So my advice? Just start. You don't need a month of meal plans; you only need today's.


I have one friend in particular who keeps telling me she wants to try Low FODMAP, so I thought I'd take you through what I typically eat each day. These are my "safety meals," and the menu I go back to anytime I've had a bad reaction to something. I'm eating these right now because two days ago I rather cavalierly threw a bunch of mushrooms on my salad at a restaurant buffet, along with a bunch of other stuff I didn't look too closely at, and I've been in pain ever since. Oops.

I don't think I ever really believed a little food could cripple a person, but I spent most of yesterday afternoon in the fetal position. Trust me, once you understand which foods do that to you, there is ZERO temptation to cheat.

Everything I'm about to show you is Low FODMAP, and - to my knowledge - safe to eat during the elimination phase. I'll also include my favorite take-out options and some of our easy at-home dinners. Hopefully these will make getting started seem a little less scary. :)


I eat this breakfast bowl from Aldi every. single. morning.

Is it soul-crushing to eat the same breakfast every day? Yes. Is it worth it? SO MUCH YES. Before I found these bowls I had to make my own breakfast every day, which often just didn't happen. When I had the energy I'd make this, though:

A little more tasty, but 1000% more effort.

In addition to eggs, cheese, potatoes, and (onion-free) sausage or bacon, you can also eat wheat-free toast with certain types of jelly or peanutbutter, and even some kinds of oatmeal. (Always consult the Monash app; a lot of oatmeal is not Low FODMAP.) So there are plenty of breakfast options.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Happy Homecoming, Evangeline!

I just shared this on Facebook yesterday - where I learned the proper term is "Gotcha Day"? - but since this is for posterity, I'm also posting it here. I want to remember this.

Plus this gave me an excuse to scroll through a thousand Eva photos, pick out a few bunch of favorites, and talk about them. AW YEAH.


One year ago today our neighbor Rebecca pulled off the highway to rescue a tiny black kitten, huddled on the middle yellow line (!!). It was so small that at first she thought it was a hair scrunchie. Then, after Rebecca got the fuzzball into her car, the kitten disappeared so thoroughly that it took her a few hours and disassembling the dash to get her out again!

One year ago today we'd just lost Tonks, and I was fighting a losing battle to keep my Lily alive. I still can't talk about it - can barely type this - but suffice to say Eva came into our lives that day, and eventually our hearts.

Evangeline was my light through the grief, her persistent distractions and demands all that kept me grounded. It took me months to admit I loved her, but now every day I'm so grateful she's here.

I forgot to mention Eva's birthday last month (or our best guess at what her birthday is), but I think today is the REAL celebration. So happy homecoming, sweet Eva, my Evangeline. Prepare to get LOTS of treats and belly rubs.

Here's Eva today, but let's take a stroll down memory lane as she grew up:


 Her first bath:

 She eventually forgave us. 
(Look how tiny her head was! We think she was about 4-5 weeks old.)


 Keeping our router warm.

Once we adopted Suki a few months later, it got a lot harder to get photos of just Eva: 

Suki was top dog from day one, and still bullies Eva around a bit, but they are devoted sisters:

Sunday, April 14, 2019

FOE Finds: Baby Thrones, Bear Lamps, & CROWLEY SAYS HI!

I'm a perpetual lurker over in Fans of Epbot, because it gives me such joy to see 5,000+ geeks basically participating in the world's best Show & Tell. My Facebook feed is 70% photos of your pets and crafts and toys and outfits and really, REALLY bad jokes - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

As I lurk, I also sometimes screen-shot a few of my favorites. Then, because I'm terrible at this, I wait a good 4 months before asking John to go find all the people whose posts I saved and see if they'll let me share here on the blog. :D Which he - and they! - graciously did. So thanks for the team effort, gang!

Now here's a little sampling of things to make you smile, all from your friendly neighborhood FOE:

 This seems appropriate this week!

 I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Dangit, Jen, you can't show us a baby Iron Throne without a baby on it!!"



Allison, I think I speak for us all when I say, Bless you for bringing this into the world. 
(The cute kid, too! :p)


Karen said she made the pot of petunias necklace - my favorite part! - from buttons. So clever!

Karen is actually one of my friends IRL, because a million years ago (or maybe 5-6) I tweeted to the world at large that John & I were at Disney, and did anyone want to meet up? And she did! Just hopped in her car and drove out to Epcot, by herself, to hang with us all night.

I don't know if I'd be that brave, but I'm glad she was.


YASSS. This makes me so happy, and reminds me of all the little Star Trek conventions I went to growing up. Everyone was there to talk and laugh and sing Klingon Karaoke, and I'd never felt more welcome to be my nerdy, Bajoran-earring-wearing self. I hope it's still like that, Melanie. I bet it is. 


You ever see a craft that makes you want to drop everything and go make one just like it?

Thursday, April 11, 2019

We Went To An Epic Game of Thrones Dinner Party! ...But We Don't Watch The Show, So Please, EXPLAIN

John and I just had the most AMAZING Game of Thrones dinner experience, but it's not fair because we don't watch Game of Thrones, so I'm going to share all the goodness here and trust you guys will appreciate it even more than we did.

First, a little background:

Our friends John and Anna love to host big dinner parties, and every Christmas, Easter, & Thanksgiving they throw open their home to all of us without family in town. They're basically our adopted local parents. In reality they're our friend Christie's parents, but now we lay claim and she has to share. 

Now, trust me, with Anna's cooking, you do NOT miss one of their dinners. Even if the theme is for a show you've never seen, like Game of Thrones.

And let's get this out of the way real quick: John and I (that's my John, not host John) aren't GoT people. I'm squeamish and easily traumatized, and John won't watch anything with sexual violence, so GoT is a non-starter. Which is cool, just like it's cool if you like the show. Different death strokes for different folks, eh?

That does mean we were clueless over pretty much everything at the party, though, so bear with me as I explain stuff I know NOTHING about.

Oh, but I did find what I think is a pretty sweet hostess gift:

There are versions of this on Etsy where they'll add in a custom name if you have more time, but since I only had a week I ordered this one from Amazon. And it's so pretty!

This wasn't a costume party, but that's never stopped me and John before. He brought & distributed all our fur cowls from our Knights Who Say Ni cosplays:

(Goes great with a polo, right?)

(The sword belongs to our hosts, and is SUPER heavy.)

Meanwhile I did my best with what I had in my closet:

I wore my Hufflepuff cup necklace, because of course I did.

Now, let's set the stage at John and Anna's place:

Their house is lovely, for starters, and their decor is already kind of Thronesy, from what I can tell. (Anna is originally from Estonia, and they've traveled all over.) John even has furs and big swords mounted on the wall in his game room, ha.

 The plates and cups were especially in theme:


And the table was set with candles, dragons, coins...

... and fun miniatures:

You'll see the bread in a minute. It's worth the wait, I promise!

We got there early that day to play Borderlands together (told you they're awesome), but here's the table later with everything lit up:

Monday, April 8, 2019

Lights, TARDIS, Big Hair Action!

It feels like I haven't done much the last couple weeks, but when I went back to check my photos I realized I've just been doing a lot of little things. Here, I'll speed run you through it:

 First, I tried some more melted crayon art, this time with a TARDIS:

 I flicked some white paint onto the glass first, hoping it would look like stars. Then I added a TARDIS decal cut with my Cricut.

From there I melted a whole mess of galaxy-colored crayons on top:

Here's the fun part, though: I used blue and purple glitter crayons, too, and they turned out so sparkly!

Here's a video so you can see some of the crazy sparkle effect; there's both blue and copper glitter in there!

(If you missed it before check out my melted crayon tutorial. I used all the same materials and techniques for this one.)


With John's help I made my first ever Cricut card for my parents' anniversary. They're currently riding around the U.S. on their Harley, so I found the perfect silhouette to cut:


Plus it only took me and John about 4.5 hours to make it! YAY NEW TECHNOLOGY.

::mad laughter that turns to sobs::

(That's for those of you who were wondering why I'm not doing any Cricut tutorials. I still have no idea what I'm doing. Plus Cricut is a sneaky Woozle for including all the pay fonts in with the free ones, so after 2 hours of painstaking design you finally go to cut and it tries to charge you $10. Then you have to strangle an inanimate object, and John has to intervene, and it's a whole thing, you know?

Quick Cute Break:


And Suki's cute, too.


Friday, April 5, 2019

New Project Reveal! Our High-Tech Headboard

Back when I was young and naive, I decorated my house like a person who DOESN'T own cats. I used loose-weave fabrics and cushy floor rugs and velvet-backed frames with abandon, y'all. ABANDON. (Seriously, what monster decided black velvet was good on frames?!)

Now that I am older and wiser, though, pretty much every design choice in our house has the following criteria:

- How much cat hair will stick to it?
- How easy is it to remove said cat hair?

Aaaand that's about it. 

Now, for our latest project, let's step into my bedroom, if you please.  ::WINK::

Nearly six years ago John and I completely remodeled our bedroom to look like this:

I'mma spoil this for you right now: it still looks like this.  

Here's a photo I took yesterday:
I don't like a lot of change. What.

What you're not seeing, though, is how our headboard just got a huge upgrade. And I'm so excited about it, there is major Kermit flailage going on. Major.

 First let me explain the problems with the old headboard:

PROBLEM 1: (Brace yourself)

The headboard fabric was basically Velcro for cat hair. And of course - OF COURSE - both of our new girls love sitting up there. This was both super gross and making our allergies go nuts.

PROBLEM #2: This is what my bedside floor has looked like for the past few years:

Wires EVERYWHERE. Believe it or not, that's all for my phone; there's an extension cord, a headphone adapter, and a pillow speaker I need for my sleep app. (The speaker was then forever falling on the floor.)

John also had a cord and headphones on his side of the bed. We both kept our phones on our nightstands, so the cords fell on the floor during the day (where they turned into dust traps) and tangled around our arms and torsos at night. I can't tell you how frustrating it was just trying to roll over; I'd invariably snag my speaker wire with my arm, which would yank the phone off the nightstand, which would clatter to the floor like a gunshot, which would wake up John. Worst game of Mouse Trap ever.

Plus it looked terrible, white wires covered in dust all over the dark wood floor. Vacuuming was a perpetual game of Chicken.

Ahh, but I had a dream, my friends. A dream... OF A HIGH-TECH HEADBOARD.

First we ripped off the old fabric:
 And burned it.

(I kid.)

We kept the foam to re-use, though.

Next we added a laminated shelf top ($12 at Home Depot) and John cut a square into the face of the headboard frame:

This is hard to describe, but next we essentially created a new cushion piece - using the old foam on a new piece of wood - to stick ON this frame. So only the very front of the headboard is padded.

Here we're lining up the new vinyl fabric:

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Hogwarts House Laptop Decals To Make With Your Cricut! (Free Templates!)

John designed the BEST laptop decal for himself the other week, and I'm still not over it: 


Technically "the rest" should be in quotes, but he made this before I could nitpick his grammar. :D

In case you're unfamiliar with the reference: in the books, after each of the other House founders claims the students they want, Helga Hufflepuff proudly proclaims that she will take the rest. John has always loved that line, even convinced me to draw a badger so he could make this t-shirt for himself a few years ago:

Note the proper quotation marks. :p

(I can't find this shirt anywhere on Epbot! Have I really never shown it to you guys before??)

Getting back to the decal, John put the design together using free clip art - but it's his use of the glowing apple on his Mac that makes it so brilliant. PUN INTENDED.


Let us not speak of how many times John & I attempted the simple motion of LIFTING A LAPTOP LID to get this shot. 



Glowing badger eyes! EEEEE!
This is seriously the coolest.

We're still new to the world of Cricut, so I'm impressed how well it handled all the tiny cuts. Then we took the advice of some of you readers, and used dollar store shelf liner as transfer paper (after weeding the design):