Posts tagged: announcements

Featured on BonbonBreak.com

By , July 23, 2012
Bonbon Break

I’m humbled that a groovy new website, BonbonBreak.com, asked me to be a post contributor. My Bugbath post is featured in the Backyard section of their website this week.

Check it out; it’s a neat place, and there are so many articles there I want to read!

A little bit about it:

Here at Bonbon Break our mission is twofold; To introduce blogs that are extra special, in an easy and fun format for busy moms looking for a moment to themselves; And, to provide a place for bloggers to showcase their material in a way that respects and honors their individual sites, creative rights and content.

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My Illness Finally Has a Name!!

By , November 25, 2011

Finally.

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

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Free Shipping Through Monday, October 24th at Tropical Traditions!

By , October 22, 2011

It’s Free Shipping time at one of my very favorite companies, Tropical Traditions! Free shipping will save about $10-15 off your order, so it’s a good time to stock up, or try them out if you haven’t before. I really love this company’s products, and use them daily. Now through Midnight EDT on Monday October 24th, they’re offering free ground-only shipping when you enter coupon code 241011 at checkout.

*****

Tropical Traditions has a wide range of high-quality products; here are my favorites:

Moisturizing lotion – I use this every day on my face and hands. It’s the most luxurious stuff, and very gentle since it has only a few wholesome ingredients. Definitely my all-time favorite lotion.

Moisturizing cream – Much thicker than the lotion, this is another favorite. Also great for use on face and hands.

Virgin organic coconut oil – Great for cooking, eating, and also for skin! Has a much better taste than other unrefined coconut oils I’ve tried. I just love this stuff.

Organic raw honey – This is the best-tasting honey I’ve ever had. I like to buy and taste lots of different honeys, and this one always wins, hands down. When I first tried it, my eyes got big and my mouth dropped open; it just has the most amazing taste! Quintessential, flowery honey taste. This stuff is a staple in our house!

Coconut cream concentrate – I love this stuff. LOVE it. The “format” is a little strange, because when you receive it,  it will have settled out into a hardened layer of coconut oil and a layer of dried/finely ground coconut meat. You’ll wonder what to do with it at first; what I do is put the jar into a pan of simmering water and let it sit there until the contents have softened and liquefied, and then I can easily stir it up. Then, I put it in the fridge until it’s hardened again. Once hardened, you can then store it in the fridge or at room temperature (it won’t separate again unless it gets really hot in your house). I usually just eat this stuff plain, it’s so good; I break it into chunks with a knife, and eat it as a snack. Sometimes I’ll eat it dipped in the raw honey, which is a very decadent and extremely delicious snack!!!

Laundry Detergent – This detergent is all we use, now that I’ve discovered it. It works very well, gets the stains out, and lasts a long time, making this a very economical purchase.

Oxygen Bleach – Like OxyClean. If you need a tough stain-fighter/deodorizer for laundry and everywhere else around the house.

*****

Now, I’ve also tried their organic bar soap, and though it was really nice soap, Hubby and I have never seen a bar of soap get used up so fast! It was weird. It just seemed like it was gone in record time. So I wouldn’t get it again. (Though my mom has the liquid soap and really loves it.) I haven’t tried every single product that they sell…but the ones I listed above, I make sure to never run out of!

Also, I bought the Atchara once out of curiosity, and it was extremely strong (even for this vinegar lover!), and a little weird. Not quite a favorite.

*****

And if you’re a new customer and have never bought from them before, you can also get this Virgin Coconut Oil book, with information  & recipes, for free (any time, not just today) by entering my User ID, which is 6032410. When you’re going through the checkout process and you’ve added your shipping address and phone number, you will see the question “How did you hear of us?” Just choose “Referred by a friend” and then a new “User ID” field will appear below that where you can enter my User ID. (See screen shot below.)

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Free Shipping Today & Tomorrow (August 7 & 8) at Tropical Traditions!

By , August 7, 2011

Just letting you know that today and tomorrow, one of my very favorite companies, Tropical Traditions, is offering free shipping. This saves about $10-15 in shipping costs, so it’s a good day to stock up, or try them out if you haven’t before. I really love this company’s products, and use them daily. So now through tomorrow, Monday, August 8th at Midnight EDT, get free ground shipping when you enter coupon code 801108 at checkout. 

Click here to read about which of their products I love most.

*****

And if you’re a new customer and have never bought from them before, you can also get this Virgin Coconut Oil book, with information  & recipes, for FREE (any time, not just today) by entering my User ID, which is 6032410.

When you’re going through the checkout process and you’ve added your shipping address and phone number, you’ll see the question “How did you hear of us?” Choose “Referred by a friend” and then a new “User ID” field will appear below that where you can enter my User ID.

*****

Free Shipping Today Only (Monday, June 13) at Tropical Traditions!

By , June 13, 2011

It’s a Free Shipping Day at one of my very favorite companies, Tropical Traditions! The free shipping will save about $10-15 off your order, so it’s a good day to stock up, or try them out if you haven’t before. I really love this company’s products, and use them daily. Today only, Monday, June 13th through Midnight EDT, they’re offering free ground-only shipping when you enter coupon code 61113 at checkout.

Click here to read about which products I love most.

And if you’re a new customer and have never bought from them before, you can also get this Virgin Coconut Oil book, with information  & recipes, for free (any time, not just today) by entering my User ID, which is 6032410. When you’re going through the checkout process and you’ve added your shipping address and phone number, you will see the question “How did you hear of us?” Just choose “Referred by a friend” and then a new “User ID” field will appear below that where you can enter my User ID. I also get some sort of little gift if I refer a friend, so that’s nice too.  🙂

(screen shot below)

Free Shipping Today Only (April 19) at Tropical Traditions!

By , April 19, 2011

It’s a Free Shipping Day at one of my very favorite companies, Tropical Traditions! The free shipping will save about $10-15 off your order, so it’s a good day to stock up, or try them out if you haven’t before. I really love this company’s products, and use them daily. Today only, Tuesday April 19th through Midnight EDT, they’re offering free ground-only shipping when you enter coupon code 41118 at checkout.

They have a wide range of high-quality products; here are my favorites:

Moisturizing lotion – I use this every day on my face and hands. It’s the most luxurious stuff, and very gentle since it has only a few wholesome ingredients. Definitely my all-time favorite lotion.

Moisturizing cream – Much thicker than the lotion, this is another favorite. Also great for use on face and hands.

Virgin organic coconut oil – Great for cooking, eating, and also for skin! Has a much better taste than other unrefined coconut oils I’ve tried. I just love this stuff.

Organic raw honey – This is the best-tasting honey I’ve ever had. I like to buy and taste lots of different honeys, and this one always wins, hands down. When I first tried it, my eyes got big and my mouth dropped open; it just has the most amazing taste! Quintessential, flowery honey taste. This stuff is a staple in our house!

Coconut cream concentrate – I love this stuff. LOVE it. The “format” is a little strange, because when you receive it,  it will have settled out into a hardened layer of coconut oil and a layer of dried/finely ground coconut meat. You’ll wonder what to do with it at first; what I do is put the jar into a pan of simmering water and let it sit there until the contents have softened and liquefied, and then I can easily stir it up. Then, I put it in the fridge until it’s hardened again. Once hardened, you can then store it in the fridge or at room temperature (it won’t separate again unless it gets really hot in your house). I usually just eat this stuff plain, it’s so good; I break it into chunks with a knife, and eat it as a snack. Sometimes I’ll eat it dipped in the raw honey, which is a very decadent and extremely delicious snack!!!

Laundry Detergent – This detergent is all we use, now that I’ve discovered it. It works very well, gets the stains out, and lasts a long time, making this a very economical purchase.

Oxygen Bleach – Like OxyClean. If you need a tough stain-fighter/deodorizer for laundry and everywhere else around the house.

*****

Now, I’ve also tried their organic bar soap, and though it was really nice soap, Hubby and I have never seen a bar of soap get used up so fast! It was weird. It just seemed like it was gone in record time. So I wouldn’t get it again. (Though my mom has the liquid soap and really loves it.) I haven’t tried every single product that they sell…but the ones I listed above, I make sure to never run out of!

Also, I bought the Atchara once out of curiosity, and it was extremely strong (even for this vinegar lover!), and a little weird. Not quite a favorite. :-)

*****

And if you’re a new customer and have never bought from them before, you can also get this Virgin Coconut Oil book, with information  & recipes, for free (any time, not just today) by entering my User ID, which is 6032410. When you’re going through the checkout process and you’ve added your shipping address and phone number, you will see the question “How did you hear of us?” Just choose “Referred by a friend” and then a new “User ID” field will appear below that where you can enter my User ID. I also get some sort of little gift if I refer a friend, so that’s nice too.  🙂

(screen shot below)

Win This Gorgeous Necklace!

By , February 23, 2011

Remember when I told you about the beautiful things I bought from Jeff & Taryn’s ETSY store? Well they’re doing a giveaway of the beautiful inlaid pendant necklace in the picture above! If you want to be entered into the drawing to win it, pay a visit to Taryn’s blog, here! The giveaway ends on Monday, February 28th at Midnight, Pacific time. Good luck!

** This giveaway has now ended. **

Philosophy Friday: I Followed My Heart & Quit My Job!

By , February 4, 2011

My cubicle at work, where I spent the past 5 years.

If you’ve been around here for a while, you might remember a Philosophy Friday post I wrote back in October: All That Glitters Is Not Gold.

For quite a while now, I’ve been aching deeply for a quieter, more soulful existence; putting my energy into things that feed my soul rather than into my non-fulfilling I.T. job. Yes…the whole ‘life is too short’ thing. There are certain parts of the job that I like — technical writing & documentation, software support, and some system administrator duties — but on the whole it’s not what really feeds my heart. For well over a year I’ve been feeling very torn and unclear about whether to stay or quit. When you’re torn and unclear is not the time to make a major decision.

So I waited.

And in early January of this year, things became clear. I finally felt a calm, deep knowing that it was time to let go of my job and move forward with my life in a way that’s completely aligned with my heart.

This was a good, secure job and although I knew it was definitely time to quit, it still took a surprising amount of courage. I spent 5 years there (7 if you count contract work), though it feels more like forever. I have roots there, I guess. For a good long time I kept talking myself into staying because of the steady paycheck and medical insurance. But it turns out that the energy balance was grossly uneven; I was giving a lot more than I was getting. The price I paid for that paycheck and insurance was quite literally my health and happiness. Yikes.

And so I quit.

Yesterday was my last day and it was actually harder than I anticipated. A heavy day. I realized I was more attached to some of my coworkers than I thought. All those “Good bye, I’ll miss yous” sure tugged at my heartstrings. Cleaning out my cubicle was also harder than I thought. It just felt surreal. I put so much of my energy into that job that it felt weird to suddenly be erasing all traces of myself. When someone from a neighboring department heard I was leaving, she exclaimed “What will they do without you??! You’re their backbone!” That was the nicest compliment and made me feel good.

But after a good night’s sleep last night, I’m feeling much more in my groove today and thinking about all the things I won’t have to do anymore now that I’m not there. Hallelujah! It was most certainly the right decision. I’m so excited!

I’ll still do some contract work from home for the I.T. department now and then, but I’ll most certainly be de-stressing and doing lighthearted things! Then I’ll be getting my own things going — ways to make a livable income without working the rat race. We’ll see what transpires! I think it’ll be a great new adventure. Cheers to that!

Back From Argentina!

By , December 17, 2010

Lost in the chaotic back streets of Buenos Aires

Boy it’s been a whole month since I posted! We got back from Argentina a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been getting things back in order, plus relaxing and enjoying the Christmas season!

We had such a great time on our trip! There were many things we observed and made note of, and I’ve listed them here if anyone’s interested. Just observations about the country. There are more pictures after the text.

We* ended up driving almost 3,200 miles from Buenos Aires down the east coast to Peninsula Valdez where we saw penguins, then west through Patagonia (route 25) to the Andes, then through the Pampas back to Buenos Aires.

*I was the map-reader and in fact did precisely NONE of the driving; F. did it all, despite the insane drivers, complete lack of stop signs, and basically no road rules. I was so sure we were going to get into an accident, but amazingly we didn’t. My Hubby is such a good driver! Wow.

Argentina was NOT cheap like everyone had said, however. Prices for everything (even in places well off the beaten path) were comparable to the United States. The nature there was first-rate, however. Beautiful! We loved seeing different animals in the wild, including guanacos, rheas (like ostriches), flamingos, penguins, whales, parakeets, sea lions, tarantulas, an armadillo, a stork, vultures, cara-caras, vermillion fly catchers, etc.

Some Random Observations:

Argentina is very Italian (say “Ciao!”). It’s all about pasta, pizza, ham-n-cheese -everything, and croissants. We ate enough ham & cheese cold cuts and croissants to last us a lifetime.

This country consumes a LOT of sugar! It’s everywhere, and in everything. And they love their helado (ice cream) and dulce de leche (carmelized milk & sugar)!

They don’t seem to be much into fresh food or vegetables. Salads are a little bit of wilty lettuce topped with mountains of ham and cheese, topped with, strangely, distilled white vinegar and corn(!) or vegetable oil. Canned fruit was usually the thing, rather than fresh. I was consistently underwhelmed by the selection and quality of fresh produce — and none of it was organic that I saw.

Despite the perfect climate and rich soil, I only saw a handful of backyard gardens and a couple of backyard fruit trees. Why don’t people grow their own food?

The supermarkets are crammed with processed foods laden with sugar, preservatives, partially hydrogenated oils, and white flour, with seemingly no healthier alternatives.

Milk is mostly all ultrapasteurized, sold in aseptic bags or in boxes on the shelf. And I stocked up when I could find plain yogurt with no sugar added!

I didn’t see organic anything. The organic/local foods/whole foods/fresh foods/no-GMO thing hasn’t reached Argentina yet, it seems. They do have Gluten-Free down pat, though.

No health food stores… none that I saw anyway.

They drink a lot of mate (pronounced mah-tay), anywhere and everywhere, all the time, usually with friends, preferably outside, but also at work and in the car.

Spanish is spoken with an Italian accent. And the double L sound is pronounced “sh” rather than “y”. Calle (“street”) is pronounced “kah-shay” instead of “kah-yay.”

The driving is completely nuts, reckless, and downright scary, but people are generally paying attention and usually not on their cell phones.

The road signage throughout the country is minimal, confusing, and often just plain stupid.

There are no stop signs at intersections, lanes are optional, red lights are sometimes disregarded — as are pedestrians — and it’s very much a “me first” attitude. I’m still completely amazed that we weren’t involved in an accident.

That said, the people (when not in their cars) seemed really nice everywhere we went. We didn’t really run into the machismo attitude we’d read about, although perhaps that’s because we were traveling as a couple. I got a few wolf whistles but mostly I just noticed that the men were courteous in general, and held the door for me.

Seat belts, car seats, and helmets are seen only occasionally.

Buenos Aires has a Parisian look to it, but the buildings are dirty and run down, perhaps from the air pollution?; the city is much prettier at night when you can’t see the dirt!

We drank the water everywhere with no problem.

All gas stations are full service. All cars are manual transmission.

What they call “NAFTA” is the regular gasoline we’re used to in the States; it’s expensive at around US$4+ a gallon. GNC (compressed natural gas) is also widely available (and usually a quarter of the price as NAFTA), and many cars use that as fuel.

In general, Argentinians are thin, easy on the eyes, and casually fashionable. Most have European blood.

The traffic lights will turn yellow before they turn red, but also again before they turn green.

Waiters will let you linger at a restaurant as long as you want; if you want the check, you’ll have to ask for it. The strange “table fee” added to your bill is for the bread, use of the table, clean silverware & plates, etc. It’s not the tip. It’s customary to tip at least 10% at a restaurant.

Police stations are in every town, no matter how small. There are lots of police “checkpoints” (though they seemed pretty laid-back).

Lots of toll roads, especially around Buenos Aires.

In Argentina they like to nickel and dime you for everything; however, parking was free, even at the beach!

No smoke detectors in hotel rooms.

Lots of cows eating lush, green grass. Famous grass-fed beef. However, they’re just getting into the feedlot-factory-farming thing — cringe!

Seemingly no emissions regulations on vehicles. The air is downright acrid in Buenos Aires.

Lots of dirty, run-down, soviet-style apartment blocks. Dead, soviet-looking building carcasses litter the landscape; too decrepit to resurrect, no money to tear them down.

The feel of the whole country is “not enough money.” This is thanks to their recent, turbulent political history.

Prices ARE NOT CHEAP! We read so many things that said “Argentina is cheap.” Well, Argentina is NOT cheap. Even in the small towns that are off the beaten path. Its prices are absolutely comparable to the US, except for electronics which are outdated and yet cost twice what they cost in the US. Jobs are evidently hard to come by, and people don’t make much money. We honestly don’t know how they survive. Thus, the look of “poor” throughout the country.

Siesta is every afternoon. Stores close for about four hours and then re-open later in the evening. They still put in a 40-hour work week though.

Argentinians are night owls; they eat late and stay up very late.

Dogs run free. There are dogs everywhere, napping on sidewalks, crossing streets, playing in groups, just “out and about.” Some are stray, some aren’t; all look happy!

Our Peugeot rental car

Somewhere in Buenos Aires

Mar del Plata

Driving along the beach, south of Mar del Plata (?)

Ubiquitous dirty apartment blocks -- these are in not-so-scenic Necochea

Pastry with dulce de leche -- the best deal in Argentina at only US$1

Someone's backyard behind the gas station. Can't remember where...

Every store had an entire aisle devoted to cheap vegetable oils. Only 75 cents US for a bottle. Not your thing? Then try the blocks of margarine in the refridgerated section!

Milk is sold in bags. Almost all of it ultrapasteurized; pasteurized (like the stuff above) is rare.

We stayed in Puerto Pyramides on Peninsula Valdez. I particularly loved this leg of our trip. Our room was right on the beach and we watched whales from our balcony!

We saw lots of sweet penguins at Peninsula Valdez!! Gorgeous water, too. (And very, very windy!)

Patagonia does feature a lot of nothing.

In the Andes, with Bariloche in the distance. It was SO windy! And the water really is that beautiful color.

Typical Argentinian hotel buffet breakfast. Ham & cheese, croissants (not pictured), canned fruit, sweetened drinkable yogurt, breads, and sugary pastries filled with dulce de leche.

The Pampas sometimes looked like the grassland prairie of the American midwest, while in other places (like here near Santa Rosa) it looked like the African savanna with lots of Acacia. (And notice the flamingos in the water in the bottom left hand corner of the picture!)

Old gas station with Che Guevara posters in the city of Chivilcoy.

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