Friday, January 20, 2012

I Love to Cook

The title really says it all.  I love to cook.  I always have.  In my family, the love of cooking appears to have skipped a generation.  My younger sister and I both love to cook.  Our mom on the other hand, well, let's just say she doesn't share our joy.  That's not to say she's a bad cook, because she's not!  When she does cook, it always tastes wonderful.  If it didn't, we probably wouldn't have holiday dinners that pull in 30+ people every year (no joke, I think Christmas this year was an insane 35 people at one point!).  And with that, I give you the first mother/daughter co-blog.  Here's my story of how I came to love cooking, and please be sure to go read mom's post on how she doesn't love it.

I was a lucky kid growing up.  I had two amazing sets of grandparents that I spent a ton of time with.  Both of my grandmothers were amazing cooks, and I spent numerous hours in the kitchen with them.  First watching, and in awe of all of the amazing things they would always make.  Then I was old enough to help them cook, and that's when I gained an appreciation for cooking.  They both made everything from scratch and memory.  We all knew better than to ask for recipes, because they didn't exist. In fact they still don't exist, and now that they have both passed on I've tried my best to recreate some of the dishes they made.  Some of them have been successful (i.e. Nanny's potato salad), and some of them I've had to give up on because it will just never be the same (i.e Grandma's bean soup).

I was pretty young when they started having me help out in the kitchen.  I was a pretty great sous chef if I do say so myself!  I used to tear bread for stuffing, pick beans for soup and peel potatoes (Okay, so this one time I took a chunk out of my thumb with the potato peeler.  Don't worry, I was fine...but Nanny was more concerned with whether or not I had gotten blood on the potatoes than she was with the fact that I was now missing a piece of my thumb.  It's been my favorite scar ever since.).  They taught me the basics of cooking, and I'm forever grateful for that.

Now that I'm an adult, the kitchen is my happy place.  Well, the kitchen I picture myself having someday is my happy place.  My last two kitchens in DC and my parent's kitchen are sooooooooo small.  I need to picture the aforementioned dream kitchen in order to be able to cook in those kitchens without going a little crazy.  Once I get to the imaginary kitchen, I'm instantly calm.  Some people despise all of the prep work for cooking.  Slicing, dicing and grating....oh my!  I LOVE IT.  Doing all of the mundane prep work is cathartic.  Maybe it's the fact that you're usually stabbing or cutting something with a sharp knife, but once I start all of the stress from the day just melts away.  After that initial prep work to officially release the stress, I feel like nothing can go wrong from that point.  Usually, nothing does.  I have a pretty good track record for turning out tasty dishes.  Well, at least that's what I've been told, and I'm choosing to believe that no one's been lying to me!

My last year in DC was not the best for me.  Finances were the toughest they'd ever been, and work was slowly but surely killing a little piece of my soul (it sounds over dramatic, but unfortunately that's how it felt), but if I could end my night by cooking myself, and usually my roommate, a great meal, I felt like everything would be okay, and I could keep going for another day.  This feeling night after night eventually gave me my latest and greatest epiphany.  Culinary school.  Why not?  Cooking is one of two things in my life that I've consistently loved doing.  I can be a very indecisive person sometimes.  Not because I'm a flaky person, but because I get overly passionate about things very quickly, and it then takes me a while to realize that maybe whatever I'm passionate about at the moment isn't the right fit for me.  I dare someone to ask me how many times I considered changing my major in college.  Cooking's always been a constant thing, and it always will be.  It's going to be a little while before I can start school, but you know that when the time comes I'll be here to tell you all about how awesome it is.  So stay tuned......

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome....Yuck!

First, before I get started, mom and I will be doing our first co-blog on Friday.  I've already read her post, and it's just as witty as one would expect!  So now I have to live up to that....good luck to me!  I can promise it will be interesting to see two very different perspectives on the same topic.  So be sure to tune in on Friday for that!

Ok, on to today's post.  This was mostly sparked by the fact that I made a doctor's appointment with a new doctor today.  So, here's a little back story.  I'm currently very over-weight.  I didn't always used to be over-weight.  After going through pictures I figure that I really started to gain weight my senior year of high school.  I was really active in high school.  Not only was I in the marching band and constantly moving (it takes more athleticism than one would think....clearly it's no football work out, but we were never sitting around doing nothing!), but I also had a gym membership throughout most of high school.  A gym membership that I actually used on average of 5 days a week.  I may not have been eating perfectly, but I don't think that I was eating poorly enough to completely cancel out my workouts or to really explain how much I ballooned.  At the end of my junior year I think I was wearing a size 12 or 13 in juniors pants.  By the time I started college I was a size 16 in women's pants.  It was only downhill from there.  I continued to gain weight through college and into recent years.  I'm now a size 20/22.  Let me tell's really difficult and very expensive to shop for clothing now.  I shop at 3 stores...Old Navy, Lane Bryant and Dress Barn.  Plus I feel like crap....physically and emotionally.

Turns out, there was actually a reason for the weight gain.  Granted, in college I helped myself gain some of that weight, and I accept full responsibility for making a bad situation worse, but there's not much I can do about it now. the summer of 2008 I was getting ready to move to Washington, DC and decided it would be best to get all of my doctor's appointments out of the way before I went.  I got my new contacts and glasses, and got my teeth cleaned, and made my first visit to a lady doctor.  I'd never been previously as I'd really had no need to go, or so I thought.  After going through a long list of complaints (facial hair growth, extreme cramping, weight gain etc...) the doctor decided I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.  I encourage you to visit the site to learn more, but it basically comes with a whole slew of really obnoxious symptoms.  I have almost all of them.  It's's frustrating....and it's hard to find a doctor that knows how to treat it.

That first doctor wrote me a couple of prescriptions for things she thought would help, and then told me to lose weight.  Then in DC the first doctor I went to told me I was likely misdiagnosed, but she didn't feel the need to go back through the symptoms with me or try to help, so I dumped her.  I finally found a doctor that I liked.  Unfortunately, she didn't specialize in PCOS (99% of the very few that did specialize in it back there are fertility specialists...not something I was looking for then, or now for that matter), but she was a wonderful person.  She did research, and tried to help me find a diet that might help spark the weight loss, all the while being sympathetic to the fact that I had a disorder that causes me to gain weight and simultaneously makes it ridiculously hard to lose it.  She was fabulous, and I lost 20 lbs while seeing her.

Now I'm back in Arizona, and was facing having to find yet another doctor.  Preferably someone who knows something about PCOS, and would be willing to do a full work up on me to figure out how severe it is, and actually treat it.  Let me tell you, it was not something I was looking forward to all.  Lucky for me, my mom spends her days talking to doctor's offices on the phone.  She's found a doctor that she assures me is amazing, and gave me a secret phone number to get a hold of the woman she knows at the office so I'd be sure to get in (how awesome is she?!).  I have an appointment with said doctor next week, so fingers crossed we can start to really figure this nastiness out and try and get rid of it.

I know this has been a long, less than uplifting, post, but it's something I struggle with daily and will likely blog about numerous times in the future.  I'm really determined to get better.  I'm currently uncomfortable in my own skin.  Literally.  I'm never fully comfortable.  I'm also in pain pretty frequently.  I know some of you may be thinking, "So you gained some weight, deal with it.  At least it's not cancer or some other awful terminal illness."  Believe me, I fully agree with you.  I have family members and friends who have battled cancer.  I have a friend with Crohn's disease.  I know that compared to what they've gone through, what I have is really minor, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck.  So yeah, that's the reader's digest version of my battle with PCOS.

That's all for now.....come back on Friday for a much lighter post about cooking!  My first co-blog with mom.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm Back....Again...

I know, I know.....It's been nearly a year since my last post, so why bother? I just can't seem to let the blog go. I'm back for real this time though, because this time I have someone to hold me accountable. More about that in a bit though....

My last post had last year's New Years Resolutions in it. So let's recap on how that went shall we?
  1. Love Myself - We'll just call this one a fail and leave it alone.
  2. Enjoy Life More - Success overall. Once I realized I had to leave my life in DC behind I made sure to live it up good before I left.
  3. Win My Battle With My Weight - This is going to be a long process obviously. It had some ups and downs this year. I lost 20 pounds...then after moving I've gained about 10-15 of those back. So starting tomorrow, it'll be time to go back to the gym and get myself back on the diet that was working.
Okay, now that we've covered that....on to the reader's digest recap of 2011:
  • I continued to work at the same hotel despite many efforts to find a job elsewhere.
  • I had to make the difficult decision to move back to Phoenix after 3 wonderful years in DC. Unfortunately my inability to find a new job made it financially impossible for me to stay in DC.
  • My mom came to visit me for a week in DC and we had a great time being nerdy tourists for a week.
  • I spent my last months in DC trying to take in as much as I could before I left. This includes many hockey and baseball games, concerts and seeing all of the tourists spots I hadn't seen yet. I didn't quite get around to everything, but it's not like I won't be visiting soon.
  • In August I was a bridesmaid in a good friend's wedding. It was the weekend before I left town, and it was such a wonderful way to end my time in DC.
  • My sister flew out to DC and we once again made a cross country road trip in Malibu Barbie.
  • We stopped in Oklahoma City for a few days where the rest of the family met us and we got to spend some time sight seeing and spending time with a section of the family we don't normally see.
  • I once again became an AZ citizen in September.
  • I'm a Phoenix Coyotes season ticket holder.
  • 2 of my best friends got engaged within a week of each other, and it feels like everyone I know either had a baby or announced a pregnancy in 2011.
  • I'm living at home with the parents and working at the hotel I worked at last time I lived here.
That about sums up 2011. There were a lot of good points and some not so good points, and I'm ready to just move on to 2012. 2012 is going to involve a lot more, really, it is! Mom and I are going to be participating in the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge. In order to work ourselves up to blogging 6 days a week, we're going to co-blog. Each month will have a different theme, and we're going to aim for 2 posts a month, but I'd like to think we could manage at least once a week. So stay tuned for that, and we'll see how it goes!