Kitchen / Garden / Sanctuary - Urban Homesteading to Nourish Body + Spirit

Month: November 2011 (Page 1 of 3)

Gratitude Sunday * November 27, 2011

Sunday’s a good day to remember what we’ve been grateful for over the past week, don’t you think? I’m joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition, and here’s my list:

– That this awful illness is treatable and that I’m finally getting treated. That is so huge. To think I might eventually feel better again and get to have my life back. I was afraid that would never happen.

– Grateful for memories. During difficult times in bed where I’m feeling more awful than I ever have in my life, I can disappear into my mind and memories, and instantly transport myself in time!

– Four reiki sessions from a friend. The most wonderful, useful, healing gift!

– That the drugs make me nauseous and tired, rather than nauseous with insomnia! Now that would be really bad, hah. So at least I’m sleeping well! And in my opinion (as I learned while healing from past surgeries), sleep is the absolute hands-down best healer there is. Period.

– Raw, fresh pomegranate juice. Mmmmmm!

– A wonderful care package from my sister — a bath bomb and soap to treat myself to a hot bath! Thank you Julie!!! I loved that!!

– My hubby, F. He makes me laugh and showers me with love, and I am so lucky that he is a part of my life!

– A relaxing, wonderful Thanksgiving! And feeling well enough to eat little bits of the delicious homemade food ~~ it tasted so good.

– Watching our annual Thanksgiving-night movie, A Christmas Story. I just love that movie!

– The Christmas season. There’s so much that’s beautiful and special at this time of year.

– My family, who are all so good to me and take such good care of me.

– Nothing to do yesterday except lie around and watch cooking shows and rest and heal. It’s easier to relax when you don’t have anything hanging over you.

– Today, going with my mom to a local garden center for their holiday open house. Seeing all the Christmas decorations and a sea of pointsettias, while drinking hot mulled apple cider. Feeling so sick, but being so glad to be out — in life — in the pretty weather, with my mom, doing something fun!

– Soaking up the sun on a bench in the local park today while my parents took a walk on the path.

– Feeling peaceful and accepting on the days when I’m still sick in bed at 2:30pm. Knowing that I’m healing and this will not last forever. And meanwhile enjoying the sun flooding through the windows, the quiet of the house, and watching our neighbor squirrels chasing around the catalpa tree outside the window.

– Our space heater. I’m really grateful for it.


What has made you feel blessed this week?


My Illness Finally Has a Name!!


So you know how I’ve been so sick, and just getting sicker? Well it took 39 vials of blood to get there, but we’re pretty sure I’ve got brucellosis. No wonder I’ve been feeling so awful… walking around with a massive systemic bacterial infection for the past 19 months. Good grief.

So here’s a little background on brucellosis:

According to the New England Journal of Medicine: “Brucellosis, like tuberculosis, is a chronic granulomatous infection caused by intracellular bacteria and requires combined, protracted antibiotic treatment.”

Basically, the bacteria live inside the cells of the immune system — namely macrophages, which are the cells normally responsible for destroying invading bacteria. The Brucella bacteria multiply inside the macrophages and then further invade the body when their numbers are greater. And because they live inside cells, and are very slow growing and hard to eradicate, treatment requires many months of a combination of antibiotics.

Unlike tuberculosis, though, brucellosis is not normally passed from human to human. You get it by consuming raw or undercooked milk or meat from infected animals (goats, sheep, cattle, bison, elk, caribou, dogs, and others) or, less commonly, by coming into contact with their secretions or carcasses. Nice.

It’s rare in the United States — only 100-200 cases are reported to the CDC each year; however it’s thought to be an underreported illness here and is much more common in other areas of the world that don’t have effective public health and animal health programs. Brucellosis is also known as Malta Fever, Mediterranean Fever, Bang’s disease, and Undulant fever, as well as several other names including my two personal favorites — ‘Satan’s fever’ and ‘Fist of mercy’ — which describe it well indeed!

I had never heard of brucellosis in my life, except that on our trip to Argentina last year I was reading the label on some cheese we bought, which said “Le Serenisima products are officially free of Brucellosis & Tuberculosis.” I remember saying out loud to my Hubby, “Brucellosis — GROSS! What’s THAT?” …and then taking a picture of the label, below! Little did I know I already had that exact illness as I was speaking those words! (I was already sick by the time we went to Argentina, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t get it there; however things got a lot worse in the months after Argentina, so I still can’t be 100% sure.)

So actually, there’s a lot more to this saga than I’m going to write tonight. But I do want to write it because I’ve learned a lot thus far from this crazy experience (and it’s not over yet, to be sure). But for that, I’ll wait until I’m feeling better and can sit up at the computer for a bit.

Anyway, the short story is that I’ve tested positive 3 times for brucellosis. Why I wasn’t treated for it after the first positive is part of the longer story. But 10 days ago, I went to see a new (and better) Infectious Disease doctor at the urging of my family. We did some some blood cultures, I turned down a bone marrow culture (still hoping that was the right choice), and he started me on the standard treatment of two antibiotics — doxycycline and rifampin, which is a strong and toxic anti-tuberculosis drug. I’ll need to get liver bloodwork checked every 2 weeks while I’m on that one.

The big bottles are blood cultures. Don’t worry, that’s not ALL blood in there! Only about a teaspoon of blood in each bottle, and the rest is the culture medium.

Both arms get poked for blood cultures. The upside of all this is that blood draws don’t bother me a bit anymore!

The drugs may take several weeks to kick in according to the leaflet that came with them. What I’ve noticed so far is that my symptoms are more intense; it feels like there’s a war going on in my body. All my lymph nodes and lymph channels hurt even more than before, including thymus pain (weird!). Hopefully it’s one of those things where you get worse before you get better. But stuff’s definitely happening; Hubby thinks my body’s gearing up and kicking this crap out, and we both feel like it’s a good sign, somehow. I hope so. But it’s been a very rough week to put it mildly, and I’ve just been hanging extremely low in bed. The drugs make me nauseous on top of the way I was already feeling (like I have a mega-hangover that never goes away). It’s not fair, is it, that the diseases that are already making you feel really awful are the ones that require strong treatment that makes you feel really really awful. I’ll be glad when the barf bucket next to the bed is a thing of the past.

But the nausea does seem to be calming down a little bit, and I can actually look at the food in the refrigerator again — instead of grabbing my bottle of applesauce while trying not to look at anything else in there, and shutting the door as fast as I can! I seem to have lost my taste for any and all tea at the moment, which is sad since I just got my big order of wonderful teas from Mountain Rose Herbs…but I expect I’ll want tea again once I’m feeling better. Man, I hope so!

The real treat was yesterday at Thanksgiving! I feared I would only be well enough to eat pretzels and baby food at Thanksgiving, since that’s what I’d been eating for several days. But I actually felt well enough to want to eat, and was able to eat little bits of the delicious feast my mom and dad cooked up! Bites of stuffing and mashed potatoes have never tasted so good.

And another really wonderful thing is that a good friend has been giving me the gift of 30-minute reiki sessions from a distance for the past 3 mornings in a row. All I have to do is lie there in bed and soak it up; it’s heavenly!

I’ve got lots of love and support around me, that’s for sure, and it makes such a huge difference. I’m eternally thankful for that.

(March 2014 health update HERE)

The drugs


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you’re having a wonderful day with family and good food!

It’s a gorgeous day here — I’m in shorts! — and we’re going over to my parents’ house later, for dinner around dusk.

I just made this pumpkin pie to take; it turned out really well!

Hopefully it’ll survive the bikeride over 😉

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!



Gratitude Sunday * November 20, 2011

Sunday’s a good day to remember what we’ve been grateful for over the past week, don’t you think? I’m joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition, and here’s my list:

– The blue light of dusk outside…seeing it from inside a warm and cozy house. I love dusk, especially in the autumn and winter!

– Crossing things off my to-do list — there was a lot on it this week. Somehow writing down to-do lists helps me accomplish those things …something about how they’re in front of me on a piece of paper motivates me to do them. Then, it’s so satisfying to cross them off!

– Transcendant words from a sweet former coworker who I met up with by chance. She delivered words I needed to hear at that moment, and it was so nice to talk to her again.

– Trusting myself.

– Feeling lighthearted this week, for the most part!

– Pretty weather (shorts and t-shirt weather a couple days this week!) and how it makes it so much easier to get around on my bike. I love the snow, but was grateful for dry streets and warm weather this week in particular.

– This ultra-low-key weekend to recuperate from an exhausting week. No “have-tos” feels great!

– That the flat tire on my bike mercifully held out long enough to get me all the way home before going completely kaput right in front of our house!!

– Getting both flats repaired (both bikes had a flat! I seem to be a magnet for flat tires…), and my moneymaking work completed, on Thursday night in preparation for a Friday meeting, and then having the meeting get cancelled on Friday morning — so suddenly, I had a free day! I called up my Hubby and met him and his coworker for lunch near where he works; that was so nice!!! And the weather was gorgeous — it unexpectedly got up to 71°!

These cookies I made; they’re so good, and are gentle on my stomach.

– Laughing hysterically with my hubby!

– Watching Thanksgiving-themed cooking shows yesterday afternoon when I didn’t feel well enough to do anything else. I loved looking at the food; at least if I can’t eat it, I can enjoy it vicariously by drooling at it!

– The food that I can eat. I’m so grateful for it. And when I’m well enough to get back to eating whatever I want, I will have an incredible new appreciation for that, too.

– Reading other peoples’ gratitude lists! They’re so uplifting!

– Our space heater. That when I’m feeling especially sick, I can curl up next to it on the carpet and have it keep me warm all evening long.

– That it’s Sunday night and I don’t have to get up and go to a job tomorrow morning. I cannot tell you how good this feels. And how many years of Sunday nights I would dream of this! I am totally appreciating every second of it.



What blessings have you appreciated throughout your week? Leave a comment and let us know!


Lindsey’s Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I made up this cookie recipe this summer and I’m really loving it; it seems like it’s becoming my new go-to recipe. These are perfect for Autumn, and now that cranberries are in season, I’m loving the bright flavor of those — I chop them up and mix into the batter, and then place a cranberry on top of each cookie. I love the candied ginger in these but I think I love the cranberries even more!

Lindsey’s Pumpkin Spice Cookies

1 cup of cooked & pureed pumpkin or winter squash (canned pumpkin is fine too!)

1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted (my tummy’s sensitive to fat right now, so I adjust this to  2 Tbsp of oil or butter + 2 Tbsp more of pumpkin — they’re still delicious!)

Rounded 1/2 cup sucanat (sugar)

2 Tbsp molasses

1 egg

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt (and I use a bit more if I’m making these with unsalted butter or oil)

1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger OR chopped fresh cranberries, or a mixture of both… or something else like nuts, or whatever you like


Mix the oil, sugar, molasses, and egg. Stir in the pumpkin. Combine all the dry ingredients and stir into the wet ingredients. Mix in the crystallized ginger/cranberries, too, if you’re using those. Drop rounded tablespoonfulls onto a cookie sheet that’s been greased or covered with parchment paper. Place a whole cranberry or a piece of ginger on top of each cookie if you want. Bake at 350° for about 15 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden on the bottom, and hold together when lifted with a metal spatula.




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