Coconut Flour Cookies

My favorite paleo cookies! I’ve made them several times and I’m gonna make them again tonight because why not? (Update: I shouldn’t have asked that, as I immediately got an answer: I only have one egg. I’ll make them tomorrow then!)

Crustabakes

These cookies were actually made for my toddler.

coconut flour cookies

But they tasted so good that i find my hand dipping into her little “snack catcher” repeatedly.

If you are a mom, and you didnt know what a snack catcher is, you’ve been seriously missing out.

A snack catcher, is like a bowl. But instead of a tight fitting lid, it comes with these neat plastic flaps that allow your toddler to reach into the snack without having to fuss over how to loosen a lid.  As the name implies, the flaps also act like a “catcher”. They stop the snacks inside the bowl from falling out should your toddler decide to rattle it about.

Anyway, enough about snack catchers. Let’s get back to cookies.

coconut flour cookies 3

Because these cookies were for the most part healthy, i do not feel all that guilty reaching for an extra cookie or two. What i do feel…

View original post 221 more words

The Bone Clocks

Change is sort of hardwired into the world… what’s real changes. If life didn’t change, it wouldn’t be life, it’d be a photograph. – David-Mitchell-in-Holly-Sykes

I just finished The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. The passage I quoted is near the very end of the book; it wasn’t until I read it that I realized this book is where my last blog post came from. That particular message, that life changes (one I have spent quite a bit of time pondering, one reason why I enjoyed the book so much), came across to me before it was ever explicitly suggested. That is a sign of a talented author if ever I’ve seen one!

And my is David Mitchell a talented author.  He strings together seemingly random characters and ideas masterfully into an interconnected maze; a loose conglomerate coming together in the end to form a complete structure.  It’s quite remarkable considering the importance of mazes in the story.

The best books are the ones that make you think, and think again. The Bone Clocks was certainly a clever examination of mortality and life. It got me invested in the characters and left me wanting more. Holly is…  I have no words for Holly.  She’s just wonderful. And I sure hope Oshima shows up in Mitchell’s past or future novels!

I checked out two of his other novels, Slade House and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet, from the library,  so those are next on the list.  I think I’ll start Slade House tomorrow,  in fact…  

Update: *spoiler warning* I realized I didn’t say anything about the last part of the book, “Sheep’s Head.” I felt it was a bit contrived. It didn’t so much as add to the plot as advertise the terrible effects of global warming and depleting oil reserves, which is fine, those are both very good and appreciated points, but I think it could have done well as a separate novella. For example, in my opinion all of the major points of the book would be the same if that passage was completely left off. Sure we find out what happens to Holly, and we wouldn’t have that glorious quote that I used earlier (that could have easily been added elsewhere in the book), but all of the other characters in that passage were created in that passage; they weren’t part of the book before that (which is the pattern of the different sections of the book, but it seems an odd choice for the end; ends of books are usually spent tying things up, no?). Those characters were interesting, but again, I think it would have been better as a novella because, simply put, turning the book into a dystopian novel at the last second seems like a sell out and a terrible way of cheapening the rest of the book. The “maze” had been completed, why tack on this extra part that doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of it?  I would much rather have seen the last part of the book tie up the Crispin Hershey end, which I feel was left dangling… or did I miss something?

Regardless of all those quips (which I hadn’t even included in my original post), it’s obviously still a remarkably spectacular book. It’s rare that a book captures my attention as wholly as The Bone Clocks did! I will definitely be reading it again, as I think it’s one of those books that will be even better the second time.

Everything changes, nothing stays the same

Everything changes, nothing stays the same.

I like to think of that as a little life motto. Even the things we would like to keep the same change, like the love shared with another, and that’s okay. Just because love changes doesn’t mean it goes away. It might even end up better in the end – sometimes it’s hard to imagine how much better something could be than it is now,  or was before – but even if it doesn’t, life goes on. Life evolves, people adapt. Things change. That’s just how life is. I take comfort in that fact, and also the fact that as relationships fall apart, others can be built.

And then, of course, the things that we would like to change can, and often do. Just over a week ago I was despairing because I thought I would never find a job. Applying to dozens upon dozens of jobs, never hearing back, further burdening my parents, watching everyone else around me being successful… it was all becoming too much to bear. But now, a week and two interviews later, I have a job!

Yes, I have a job!

It all happened so quickly. My aunt messaged me on Facebook that her daughter was looking for an assistant, I emailed her daughter my resume, she forwarded it to the HR person, he called me and scheduled an interview, I interviewed, he called five days later to schedule a meeting the next day (today) with my boss’s boss, and shortly after that meeting he called and made me an offer. I had to fill out the online application and the thought that I won’t have to fill out any more online applications for quite some time is a good thought indeed. The job hunt is over! I’m scheduled to start September 6th. My pay is more than I expected for my first job out of college and the benefits are amazing – full medical, dental, life insurance, 401k, etc.- and it’s at a growing, international company so there should be good opportunities to advance.

It also feels pretty good to know that there were other candidates that I beat…

So point is, even if you think your life is going nowhere and there’s no hope for you, there is. There really, truly is. You never know what could be just around the corner.

I know that eventually this weird feeling in my chest that keeps me awake at night is going to go away, and that it will come back and go away again, because life changes. It’s okay to not feel okay because nothing stays the same; you just have to have hope.

Pertinent to the topic, one of my favorite quotes, from a man who changed my life:

Don’t give up, don’t give in, there’s always an answer to everything – Louis Zamperini

And one of my favorite songs, a true classic: “We’ll all float on, good news is on its way… Don’t worry, even if things end up a bit too heavy, we’ll all float on”

On the merits of books

Books are places of comfort. Not because they are not capable of bringing out your worst fears and anxieties but precisely because they do just that. They bring out your worst fears, your biggest dreams and wildest of hopes, and they stay with you through it all. Books can never leave you, see. They will never leave you. You can bare your soul to a book and it will hold you tighter. You read each word and each word turns into a sentence which turns into a paragraph which turns into a page. As you read each word you create a story. The author creates the bones of it, but really and truly, you create the story (Neil Gaiman explored this idea in a talk entitled “The Pornography of Genre, or the Genre of Pornography”), so as you read a book you can rest assured that it is your own. The words in the story as they’re written don’t belong to you but the journey the story takes you on does, because you created that. You used your imagination to take yourself on a journey with the book through a blacked out hotel in Baghdad, escaping death from car bomb solely because you bent down to pet a cat, or across the windy Brighton Pier during Planet Con, frantically searching for your missing daughter. You went on a journey with the book and the book went on a journey with you. You learned from it and I wonder…. What did it learn from you?

***

You get to the last page and you start at the beginning, all over again, with the promise that the words will always be there. They won’t run off the page when the going gets tough. In fact they may appear to hang on all the harder. But you also keep the words, stories, and ideas with you in more important ways. In your heart and in your brain words and stories never die.  As a certain character named “V” said in an 80’s comic: “There’s no flesh and blood within this cloak to kill. There’s only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof.”

Ideas never leave you. Stories never die.

Books are the most loyal of friends.

***

A transcription of Neil Gaiman’s “The Pornography of Genre,  or the Genre of Pornography” talk can be found in his new book The View From the Cheap Seats.
If Baghdad or the Brighton Pier sound intriguing to you,  I recommend you read The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell,  which is the inspiration for this post. 

Interview update

I think the interview went really well! She said it was “great” and “fabulous”! She has other candidates she’s interviewing but she’ll let me know on Wednesday! !!!!! This job seriously sounds so amazing. Fun job + nice boss + great benefits = amazing.

Wednesday, wednesday, you’re only 5 days awaaaay!

Good news and good deals

I’ve been giddy all day today because, for the first time since I graduated, I have an actual in-person interview for a great job! It’s tomorrow afternoon so wish me luck and stay tuned!

The good news must have stayed with me all the way to Sprouts, because I got some great deals! Bananas are 3 lbs for $1, nectarines are 2 lbs for $1 (!!!), Larabars are $0.88 each, and ground beef is $2.99/lb. I also found a bottle of Napa Valley olive oil for $10 (regular price $16). If you need any of these, head on over to your local Sprouts (I can’t promise you that the olive oil will be there though).

Tip: Current prices are good until August 24th; their weekly ad comes out every Wednesday and I believe on Wednesdays you can use the ads for both the week before and the week after, so double the sales.

Sprouts is my favorite grocery store; they carry the food I need for my diet and they always have good sales on produce. I basically lived there in Flagstaff. So far it’s the best place I’ve found to buy healthy food (like all those dang coconut products; last week was Coconut Frenzy so I got a lot of stuff for 25% off; it was also Frozen Frenzy so all the frozen foods were 20% off; that’s a recurring thing, so watch out for it). Whole Foods is nicer and has more selection (sometimes), but it’s also pricier (usually). When I was living back at home, we of course didn’t have a Sprouts so we would usually go to Safeway. Safeway is alright. They’re the only supermarket chain at home that has Ezekial 4:9 bread, so if you live in a town that doesn’t have a Sprouts or Whole Foods, Safeway is probably your best bet for alternative options. Fry’s also has a pretty good selection of health foods. It’s the closest grocery store to my apartment so I’ll probably be going there a lot. Grapes are $0.88/lb at Fry’s right now, by the way. And Bashas’ has watermelon for $0.17/lb which is just ridiculous (that’s about $3 for your average watermelon).

But enough about boring grocery ads!

Want to know what I’m cooking?

I’ve been using two paleo cookbooks exclusively: The Ultimate Paleo Cookbook by Arsy Vartanian (I wish my name was Arsy; it would be more accurate than ‘Andrea’) and Against All Grain by Danielle Walker. The day I got the Ultimate I was in heaven; I had no idea I could make so many different things and stick to my diet! I’ve only tried a handful of the recipes, because the cookbook is a realm of possibilities with over 500 pages and 900 recipes, but they’ve all turned out with varying degrees of success. I’m looking forward to cooking more from it, like the maple bacon pancakes… yum!

Against All Grain is much easier to handle and every recipe actually has a picture (the author also has a website where you can find recipes). I’ve had hits and misses with both cookbooks, the misses probably due in large part to my failure as a cook (my roommates used to joke that I should have a cooking show and call it ‘Andrea: Can She Actually Get It Right?’ or something like that; they meant well), but Against All Grain is a pretty solid collection of recipes.

The Slow Cooker Sesame Orange Chicken is probably my favorite, which is what I’ve just finished cooking (yes, at 12AM).

WhatsApp Image 2016-08-19 at 12.09.01 AM

I cooked the rice with a little coconut oil, which turned out to be a delicious twist and I’ll probably cook my rice that way all the time now.

The recipe can be found on this other WordPress site, paleoyummers, where, funnily enough, I actually found the recipe. I didn’t figure out til later that it was from that book I have.

Frick it’s good, and a lot spicier than normal… Why is it you can make a recipe a thousand times and it always turns out a little different? The joys of cooking.

 

Exciting announcement

Since I’m clearly an HTML wiz, I’ve updated the “About” page to help make the blog easier to navigate. You’ll now find a section which breaks my blog down into categories, such as ‘poetry’, so, for example, 10 years from now when I’m a famous writer and you want to see all the poetry I’ve ever posted here in one place, all you have to do is go to my “About” page and click on the “category:poetry” link. Same thing with travel (poetry and travel are the only categories I have so far, but be patient and more will come…).

You can also get to these categories by typing my blog URL, cx.andrea.wordpress.com, into your search bar, followed by /category/[category], so like,

cx.andrea.wordpress.com/category/poetry

or cx.andrea.wordpress.com/category/travel

or if I end up blogging about aliens a lot, cx.andrea.wordpress.com/category/aliens.

TIP: If you want to type a category into the search bar that contains a space you’ll have to use – in place of the space, so like

cx.andrea.wordpress.com/category/exciting-announcements

***

Now, in addition to categories, and I’m kinda learning as I go here, so for now they won’t be included on my “About” page (look for another post in the ‘exciting announcements’ category in the future) there are tags. Tags are less specific than categories… you could think of them as categories within categories, kinda. For example if I wrote a post that talks about Neil Gaiman, but isn’t about Neil Gaiman, I might tag it Neil Gaiman. I wouldn’t categorize it as Neil Gaiman though.

The template to get to the tags is the same as the categories, except when you type “category” in the template I just showed you, type “tag” instead, so like,

cx.andrea.wordpress.com/tag/neil-gaiman

Go ahead, try it!

***

This could, theoretically, be a great way for you to find out if I’ve blogged about something, you know, if I actually maintain an appropriate categorizing and tagging system. Think of this as a journey we’ll be taking together, just you and I!

What I’m all about

Scrolling through all my blog posts thus far, I realized I haven’t actually said anything about myself. So, here’s Andrea 101:

  • I am not a small town girl but I am from a small town (though I wouldn’t say I’m a big city type, either)
  • I moved to the valley almost two weeks ago. If you’re not familiar with what “the valley” is, my brain mushes together Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, etc. all together into one idea and two words: “the valley” (which has made getting around pretty problematic).
  • But I’ve been applying to jobs (two today) and getting kinda bummed out about it. I mean I’ve been looking for a job since I graduated in May (with a Bachelors in Business Administration in Marketing).
  • So if the job thing works out and I get my foot in the door, eventually I want to advance my career into international business. Immersing myself in new cultures and having the means to help people out a lil’ along the way seems super duper.
  • I would also love to be a writer; I suppose in a way I already am a writer because I’m writing, but to write something really great that resonates with people and puts my name out there would be dream.
  • All of this post is more-or-less personal meta, so please don’t judge my writing skills from it.
  • I love to travel, but I suppose that’s obvious from my last blog posts so I won’t go off on that right now
  • International marketing is really cool though; in that class at NAU I got to pretend like I was creating a marketing plan for Odwalla (Coke brand of NAKED juices basically) to expand into Russia. It was awesome. It made me excited about life, and also more excited than I already was about Russia.
  • I like books. Right now I’m reading The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.
  • I have a habit of reading two or more books at once and getting distracted and not finishing one or more of them.
  • Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. My favorite novels are Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, because they changed me. Every book I read changes me, but those more than others. My favorite series are Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien and the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor.
  • I like reading weird fantasy and sci-fi, but I’m also really into nonfiction, mostly of the historical sort.
  • I have a lot of books about Russia, most of which I haven’t read yet, but that could be said about a lot of my books. I’m a slow reader.
  • I like music, too. Currently on repeat is Bon Iver’s new song, 22
  • I dig folk,  indie, post-rock (I guess that’s what the Sigur-Ros-type-music I like is called; I’m not a genre guru), singer/songwriter, instrumental, classical, atmospheric, etc. I’ll also listen to punk and a little pop and electronica and veeery little rap.
  • My favorite singers are Ben Howard (finger-picking legend with a voice that transports me to England) and Alexi Murdoch. Favorite band is Sigur Ros. Keaton Henson also deserves a mention (and check out his instrumental album – probably my second favorite album in the world (second to Ben Howard’s debut album)).
  • But don’t think I only listen to sad  music.
  • What else can I tell you? Oh yeah…
  • In 2014 I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and while it’s currently flaring up again, it’s gotten so much better than it was, which is mostly due to the lifestyle change my doctor advised
  • I’ve cut out grains (for the most part; I’ve added back steel cut oats and sprouted grains like Ezekial 4:9 bread, but I don’t eat any other kind of bread), dairy, refined sugar, processed meat, preservatives and artificial ingredients….I’ve also severely limited my intake of starches like corn… I don’t drink alcohol or caffeine…if you want an easy way to think of it, I’m basically paleo.
  • It might be easier if I told you what I CAN eat – coconuts in all shapes and forms – like seriously, coconuts. Coconut flour, coconut milk (which is amazing because pretty much all Thai curries are made with coconut milk so I can actually EAT them), coconut sugar (I should probably do more research on that one, honestly), palm shortening, coconut OIL of course, coconut AMINOS (that stuff is like tasty soy sauce it’s the bomb; ah yes, soy, another thing I don’t eat)…  But enough about coconuts. I can also eat fruits, vegetables, nuts (although I don’t eat them much because I think peanuts may affect me and I don’t much like any other kind of nut by itself, plus they’re expensive), potatoes (sweet potatoes are much healthier than white potatoes, but white potatoes are totally fine under moderation), eggs, and unprocessed meat (lean meats like chicken and fish are the most ideal, but I also eat beef, lamb, and very little pork; bacon is actually okay as long as it’s uncured and no sugar added – there’s actually a paleo brand of it you can find at Sprouts). I guess that’s pretty much it, really, besides everything that I’ve forgotten.
  • For the first few months I was on the diet it was much worse. I couldn’t even eat tomatoes or eggs or white potatoes or high-sugar fruits like bananas or melons. And also bell peppers, eggplants, and other things I didn’t like. According to my doctor those foods (including peanuts) are more likely to cause inflammation, and as inflammation was part of my problem they were no-go’s for a while. I’m happy to report I’m eating bananas in excess now, and my eczema is still gone so no inflammation I guess?
  • Anyway, I’m kind of miserable every time I think about pizza or french fries, but I’ve survived.
  • And I’ve lost 60 pounds so that’s encouragement enough.
  • Did I mention that Neil Gaiman is my favorite author?
  • I did… but I didn’t mention that I LOVE Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter!
  • Seriously, LOTR is my life. Neil Gaiman said it’s probably the best book ever written.
  • I’ve just remembered another of my favorite books – Jonathon Strange & Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke. Bloody brilliant.
  • If you can’t tell, most of the stuff I read and listen to originates from the UK, mostly unintentionally.

 

It’s okay to need help

Some of my mail is ending up back home (Southeast AZ), some if it’s ending up here, and some of it’s ending up in Michigan. That’s a long story I’m hoping has a short end.

I finally went to the bank today and made the mistake of going to the location on the ASU campus (seriously, don’t go to the ASU campus during the first week of classes when you’re not an ASU student and have no idea where you’re going). I saw the W.P. Carey School of Business, where I would have gone if I’d gone to ASU; that was strange. I’m glad I didn’t go to ASU. Too many people. I ran into a girl I went to school with, though, so it ended up being good! It was nice seeing her, even if I’m always awkward meeting people again after a long time. The ATM was also unexpectedly easy to use (way to go OneAZ).

I also got away with not paying for parking.

You win some you lose some.

***

I just got off the phone with my dad. He told me that everything is going to be alright: “don’t freak out.” He’s going to call the apartment office tomorrow and explain the situation. We’ll get this application thing straightened out.

He also told me not to apply to restaurants yet, that we’re not that desperate and I should wait a couple months til I find a job at a bank or a bookstore or a library (I say desperate not because there’s anything wrong with working at a restaurant, but because popular professional opinion has is that working certain jobs after getting a degree looks bad on resumes; it’s all b*s*).

My dad wants to help me. I’m applying for jobs and he doesn’t expect anything more. He’s so nice. I’m alright.

It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to need help.

 

Poems & Frustrations

there are bigger worlds than you, my dear
there are more things for you to see out there
than your oceans and your fears

and your dreams, my god do they control you?
do they haunt you, do they taunt you
or do they set you free?

the world is your oyster, but it is not your seed
it doesn't owe you a god damn thing

Today I am frustrated.  Because I can’t get that poem that I’ve been working on for weeks quite right. Because the internet I just got isn’t working on my phone, and I don’t know why. Because, after leaving the poem, I took a shower and gave into the urge to just lay on the floor and feel the cold water hit my skin, like it could wash it away. I would be nothing but bones and meat and blood then.

After uncurling myself from the floor of the tub, I curled myself onto the couch, and wondered how tight of a ball I had to make with my body in order to disappear.

Maybe identity theft would be a better option.

I find myself only writing about the pretty parts of life, or maybe the ugly parts if they’ve taught me a pretty lesson, but the truth is, life isn’t pretty. I have an illness which, no matter how many steps I take to conquer, always seems to be there, crawling in the back of my mind and overtaking my body when I feel alone.

Alone is how I feel today.

I feel silly, unloved, a burden to my friends and my family and to society. No one has ever wanted to be more than just friends, and my silly brain tells me they don’t even want that, really. They’re just being polite. They don’t text me back because they don’t like me, not because they have lives of their own. But I want to feel his arms around me again, or her hand in mine again.

I’ve been meaning to go to the bank for a week now, but it’s a 20 minute drive each way, and when I get back I’ll have to fill out paperwork and then do an interview to get my name on the lease. I’m scared they’ll say I can’t stay here and kick me out. I don’t want to end up on the street. I know I won’t end up on the street – I have family that would take me in – but I don’t want to be kicked out. I don’t want to be kicked out.

Please don’t kick me out.