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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Down and Dirty of My Intimate Relationship with the Sckoon Menstrual Cup

So, you want the down and dirty on what to expect when using a menstrual cup for this time?  Well, you're in the right place!  If not, then stop reading now!  I'm about to get all up in your business (or mine, I guess) talking about menstrual blood, lady parts, and gooey stuff.  Here's my detailed run-down on using the Sckoon menstrual cup and Fleurcup for the first time as my sole feminine hygiene product during my last period.

Why am I sacrificing my pride and reputation (seriously, who am I kidding?  I love this stuff.) to publicly blog a detailed review about menstrual cups???  Because 1) not enough women in the US are aware these even exist, 2) that it's not just some thing hippy, dippy people do, and, most importantly, 3) THEY ARE AWESOME, and the female world needs to know about them.

After much research and anticipation, my Sckoon menstrual cup (size small) arrived about a week and a half before the start of my period.  I also bought and received during this time a Fleurcup (size large) which arrived about the day after the initial start of my period...just in time!  I wanted both a small and a large cup because I really felt in the middle of the sizing guidelines given most cup providers.  Also, I've always thought of myself as having a very heavy flow, so I wanted a large cup on hand just in case.

(small Sckoon in blue on left and large Fleurcup in red on right.  I removed the stem and grip rings on the Fleurcup)



OK, back to the tutorial.

INSERTION:  I did some "dry runs" (not on period) with the Sckoon when it first arrived because I wanted to practice inserting the cup before the real deal.  After toying around with various folds, I found the "labia fold" to be the perfect fold for inserting and popping open this very soft cup.  I also added water based lube to the rim of the cup (as was suggested) and found this to be very helpful and comfortable.  While holding the folded cup in your fingertips, start inserting it into the vagina folded side down the best you can.  This is where you and your fingers will need to get adventurous and creative.  The cup must "pop open" in order for the rim to touch the edges and create the seal within the vaginal canal.  The softer the cup, the harder it is for the cup to pop open on it's own.  With the Sckoon cup being a very soft cup, I had to coax mine in the beginning to open using a couple different techniques.  One method is to grab the base once inside the vagina and gently pull it down and push it back up adding a little rotation in there if you can.  Another technique (and good safety check), is to run a finger around the perimeter of cup/rim making sure it feels round, open, and fully expanded.  There should NOT be any dents along the outside walls of the cup.  It may take on the natural shape of your vaginal walls, but no dents or folds should be felt.

*SIDE NOTE- many people cut off the stems of their cups because they find them irritating and/or useless.  I kept the stem on my Sckoon as it's super soft and flexible, and it didn't bother me at all.  However, I did remove the stem and grip rings from my large Fleurcup as I did find them irritating.*

Menstrual cups fit a little lower in the vaginal canal than tampons, but you still can not feel them like you can't feel tampons.  Depending on if you have a high or low cervix, and how long your vaginal canal is, the placement should be close to this.  Also, don't freak out if your cup seems to want to tilt a little to one side.  It's common, and mine does it, as well.




Once you've decided you've placed that bad boy correctly in your vag, walk around, do your thang, and it will settle even more into place making a great seal.

Now, at this point, you're probably freaking out thinking there's no way you inserted it in correctly, and there's definitely no way it's created a seal, but, hopefully, you'll be surprised when it comes time to remove it and you hear the seal breaking.


REMOVAL:  (aka: "Birthing the Cup")  Yep, you heard me right, you're going to birth that baby out!  Well, sort of.  No epidural needed.  Know what I mean when I say "bear down?"  Basically, I mean to push like you're going to take a poo or push a baby out.  Granted, this doesn't have to be a yell-worthy push, but what this does is lower the cup in the vaginal canal so it's easier to access for removal.  Trust me, you'll know what I'm talking about one you do it yourself.  THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MOVE!  Everything is going to be all slippery up there, so you'll need whatever help you can get at first.

I actually use the stem on my Sckoon for removal until I can comfortably grab the base.  Many people do not and only grab/pinch the bottom of their cup.  Sit on the toilet, find the cup with your finger tips (if your cup was sealed properly, it should not be a messy situation in there), and give a good push (bear down).  You will feel the cup move down slightly.  Either grab the stem or pinch the bottom of your cup and slowly but confidently begin pulling the cup down WHILE BEARING DOWN at the same time.  Many times I forget to bear down during this step and have a harder time.  As it lowers, you'll get a better grab on the base of your cup.  Wipe dry your finger tips as needed as it can get slick up there!  This is where you need to get creative with your fingers and maneuvers.

Try to break the suction by either pinching/partially folding the cup, or run your finger up along side the cup breaking the suction by inserting your finger above the cup rim.  This part is tricky, but you'll find a method that works for you and become great at it doing it with ease and speed.  As it starts to exit the vagina, keep bearing down, and you should hear the breaking of the seal with a releasing of air sound (yay!)  Depending on the firmness of the cup's rim, you'll probably want to squeeze the rim to shorten the circumference, and angle the cup slightly to one end of the rim begins to exit first, but continue to keep the cup mostly upright as it will have menstrual fluid in it.  My Sckoon rim is so soft and gradual that I don't have to do worry about this, but my Fleurcup rim is slightly stiffer.

*Good Tip*  Menstrual fluid is thick and might stick to the bottom of the toilet with only one flush.  To prevent this, place a few sheets of toilet paper on top of the toilet water, and pour menstrual fluid on top of it.

After pouring out the contents, depending if you are in a private or public restroom, you can either rinse the cup in the sink, or use the toilet paper in your stall to wipe the cup clean.  You'll be surprised how easy and clean it wipes away with just toilet paper.  Try to keep the suctions holes clear.  This is very easy to do when rinsing clean in the sink.  Fill the cup to the top with water, place your palm over it creating a seal, turn your hand and cup upside down, and squeeze the water out forcing the water to exit via the holes.  Then, fold, lube (if you wish), and insert again!

Look, depending on your body, cup style, cup placement, vaginal canal length, etc., the insertion/removal process can vary quite a bit...but you'll learn what works for you as you go!  The cup can NOT get lost inside of you; your cervix is a barrier.  Upon removal, just try to relax, and REMEMBER TO BEAR DOWN.  I practiced pre-period when my cup first came in, and I'm glad I did.

Cups are great!  I had an awesome first experience with using mine!  I never leaked once and loved the freedom of being able to go longer between changes and not having to worry if I had enough tampons on me to last throughout the day.  My period was also much shorter!  I know it sounds disgusting, but experiencing your period in this way makes it very interesting.  You'll learn your flow better and how long you can go between cup emptyings.  I emptied more frequent than necessary this first go-around because I was truly flying blind and paranoid, but I now have a much better understanding of my flow for next time.  Seriously, the menstrual cup is a game changer!  I'll never buy tampons again....



Utilize YouTUBE and the web!  There is TONS of info!  These ladies are putting themselves out there to help you, and they are awesome!  Bree at Precious Star Pads is definitely my favorite.  Visit HERE.

And the Menstrual Cup LiveJournal site is filled with great information, too!  Visit HERE.



"The Cup" - The Grossest, Most Fascinating, Surprisingly Clean Method of Dealing with Aunt Flo

The "menstrual cup."  Ever heard of one of these things?  I think somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my mind, I sort of remember someone mentioning one of these devices of which I immediately brushed off as something I would never do...but, then I discovered a friend of mine was using one, and she alluded that I must have been completely in the Stone Age since I was not riding on this bandwagon, yet.  Well, we can't have that, now!

To researching, I went....to obsessing, I became.

So, I bought a cup (THIS one to be exact) after reading MANY various reviews of cups and watching a ridiculous amount of YouTube videos, I waited impatiently for the first time in my life for Aunt Flo's knock on my door.

Here are a few different brands of menstrual cups.  Please know there are many more!

SckoonCup
MeLuna Cup
Lunette Cup


Here's the basic run down of the menstrual cup.  It's a silicone shot glass you shove up your vajayjay when Aunt Flo comes for her monthly visit.  Catch Aunt Flo in the suction-sealed silicone shot glass, remove, pour out, flush toilet, wipe cup, repeat.

Wait, wait, wait, CiCi!  You want me to capture and get up-close-and-personal with the exact essence of what I loathe most about being a female?!?!  And did you really say pour it out?  Nope, uh uh, I don't think so.  Why the hell would I ever choose this method over tampons/pads???

Well, I'm glad you asked!  Here's why:
  • It's economical.  Just a one-time purchase of somewhere between $20 - $40, instead of spending $20 dollars EVERY time Aunt Flo barges in.
  • It's comfortable.  Can't feel menstrual cups (like tampons), and no drying out (UNlike tampons).
  • No more toxic absorption from chemical drenched tampons/pads.
  • No TSS worry.
  • Menstrual cups hold three times as much as tampons, so less changing.  Depending on that day's flow, you can wear up to 12 hours!
  • Blood never touches the air, so no oxidation stink.
  • Possible shorter periods with less symptoms.  Menstrual blood is NOT the same consistency as water, and a tampon does not soak it up like it does that blue water shit in the commercials.  Instead, a tampon can, at times, act like a plug keeping old blood up there until its "passage way" has been cleared.  The menstrual cup keeps that passage open so all fluid can freely fall into the cup.
  • No more carrying bulky, embarrassing feminine products to the office bathroom.
  • No pee-soaked strings hanging out from your bathing suit bottoms.
  • Did you know menstrual blood contains stem cells?  Start collecting that shit, and save the world!
  • Fido won't be digging through your trash running around playing catch me if you can with your old bloody tampons and pads!
  • Master Gardeners, menstrual blood makes a fantastic fertilizer, I hear...
  • No waste!  Go hippie green!
  • You're always prepared as long as the cup stays in your purse (or your vag).  No more leaking through a tampon only to discover while you're trapped in a public restroom that you've run out of extra tampons.  Now THAT is an "Oh, Shit!" moment.
  • And the biggest surprise to me?  IT'S CLEANER!  Since the cup creates a suction seal, fluid does not seep lower than the rim of the cup allows.  Therefore, the parts of your vaginal walls your fingers need to access in order to put it and get out the cup are clean!  It's really not a mess like you think it would be!  

So, how did my first run go with using the Sckoon menstrual cup?  Surprisingly awesome!  Total cup convert, here!  I read over and over about the cup having a learning curve needing a few cycles to really get the hang of it, but I think because I researched so much before my trial run, I was aware of the potential problems I might face and how to resolve them.  The cup needs to pop open and seal correctly, and each type of cup, fit, and body has it's own set of characteristics that may require unique tweaks and quirks in order to get it just right.  IF you'd like to read about my experience in dirty detail, I've done that in THIS separate blog post for the sake of the squeamish.  Do your reading and research!  There is tons of detailed information out there that can seriously helps lesson this learning curve or eliminate it all together.  And remember, a cup that works for your friend might not be the same cup that works for you.  Is a cup uncomfortable when inserted?  You might want a softer cup, or a shorter length cup, or need to cut off the stem, or one with a different rim design.  Don't give up if your first go at using a cup was not the most pleasant experience.  There is a cup out there for YOU!

The following YouTube channel, LiveJournal site, and Online Store were invaluable resources to me!  

Bree at Precious Stars Pads is incredible!  I was blown away by her knowledge at such a young age:

This is a forum-style site filled with every day experienced and novice cup users giving reviews, tips, and answers to whatever questions you might have.

Feminine Wear is an UK online store that carries a large selection of various menstrual cups you can not buy in the US.  Seriously, the Europeans have this cup stuff down way better than we do  Their shipping is fast and reliable!  Click on the US flag under the shopping cart icon, and the prices will switch over to US currency.
CLICK HERE!

If you would like to buy a "pre-loved" cup and save some cash, this off-shoot site of  the Menstrual Cups LiveJournal site is a place to advertise your buying and selling needs!
CLICK HERE!


  

Monday, February 3, 2014

People are Good

People are good.  No doubt about it; there is way more love and support in this world than evil an harm.  I often times don't feel I deserve the impressive people I'm fortunate to call "friends."  Yet, over and over the amazing people in my life continue to stick by my side with their love, compassion, and support.

Ok, let's back up.  As most of you know, I'm a dog lover, and it seems over the past 2.5 years I have taken on the role of canine care taker and Hospice facility, as well.  It all started with Del.  I got Del because my original labrador mate, Fred, was climbing on up the life ladder being 12 or 13 years old at that time.  Long story short, I had Del for 9 months, and then she died from Cancer.  She was the first dog I had to make "the call" on, and it broke my heart terribly.  Fred was still kicking, though!  Then, I got Cinna, my shepherd, to fill in the late Del's role, and, again, long story short, she died from cancer this past fall after having her for a little over 1.5 years.  But, yet, Fred prevailed showing he wasn't going to leave me without a fight.

Two weeks ago, that fight came, and his poor, feeble body couldn't endure what his heart could.  A type of stroke/episode/whatever it was left him completely immobile, and I'm pretty sure he had organ failure, as well.  He couldn't walk, use the bathroom, and eat and drink on his own as a result.  He became unhappy and tired.  His time had come, and he needed my help in getting there.  I put Fred down January 25th, 2014.  He was around 16 years old, and he was my baby.  We did everything together.  We ran every errand together.  We traveled every trip together.  We damn near took every pee together.  Slept together.  Swam together.  Hiked together.  Made every move together.  Most importantly, he stayed in a dark, closed-off room for those months my life was a prisoner to my deepest depression and OCD spell.  That's when he became my everything.

I want to take this e-moment (because I do not have all your mail addresses) to stress just how GOOD people are and to thank those who showed their goodness and empathy to me during my times of loss....

Thank you SO MUCH for the card, donation to NB Dog Park, flowers, gift, chocolate and wine, etc:

Paige Stallings, Justin, and Cassius
Erin Loggins
Dr. Kenny and Mrs. Sheli Patin, Kaylyn, and Lyric
Country Hills Veterinary Clinic of Bulverde, TX
Jose Castelan and Happy Tails Pet Ranch
Jim and Hollye Cunningham
The O'Kelly Family
Grady and Judy Joiner
The Swain Family
Romeo Dominguez
Dan and Kristin Ray
Drew and Holly Kennedy
Cindy Wilkins and Helen "Mimi" Mask
The Peitersen Family
The Dreistadt Family
Brad and Terrilyn Crowley
Southridge Animal Hospital of Denton, TX

I know I'm missing some people who given some form of tangible love, and I do NOT want to dismiss all the love from e-friends via Facebook.  I simply don't have room to write you all down.  Every sympathy card, vase of flowers, "I love you," donation to the NB Dog Park, book, text, hug, picture drawn, phone call, and paw print will not be forgotten.  The amount of love I've received for my late four legged friends the past two years has been SO SPECIAL to me.  Each of you remind me to be a better person...to strive to be the person YOU are.  I don't deserve such love...not at all.  You are all angels and a reminder that what may appear as a small offering of love and or help from you is huge on the receiving end.  A reminder to not let apathy or fear stand in the way of giving love.  Thank you, thank you, thank YOU.  Each tear shed by your gesture watered the hearts of humankind.

With love and gratitude- Claire

Del


Cinna

Fred

Cinna with her cousins Max and Barney

Me, Del, and Fred

Me, Fred, and Cinna

Cinna and Fred

Cinna, Fred, and their cousin, Stella



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chewy, Flexible, Crunchy Gluten Free Pizza Crust!

I loooooooooooove pizza because I loooooooooooooove bread.  LOVE IT!  I can not stress my affection for bread enough.  During my trials of eating Raw Vegan, Gluten Free, and now Paleo, I can easily say chewy, artisan, crispy, wheat, gluten loaded bread is by far what I jones for the most.

When I have a "cheat meal," I try to keep some sort of goodness intact, so the other day I decided to make pizza with a homemade gluten free pizza crust when I came across this recipe on Pinterest.  I noticed in the post the blogger said she would eventually like to tinker with adding psyllium husk and reducing the starch level, so my first go around with this recipe, I did just that...but I wasn't totally "on" with my proportions.  Since it was my cheat meal, and I was willing to deal with the starch content, I decided to not be too concerned with the starch level and simply "improve" (IMO) on the original crust's texture by adding my new favorite ingredient, psyllium husk powder.  I love the "chew" this ingredient adds to GF breads.

Well, after some trials, the following recipe is an alternative to Zen Belly's recipe that I've come up with it...and I think it's amazeballs.  It's light, it's chewy, it's got some crisp to it, it rises beautifully, it stays thin crust, is easy to spread/shape, and has baking properties of "normal" bread.  Let me know what you think!  And, NO NASTY XANTHAN GUM!

Gluten Free/Grain Free Pizza Crust (nom, nom, nom, nom...)

  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 Tbs. raw honey
  • 1/2 cup of very warm (not scalding hot) water
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 Tbs. psyllium husk powder
  • 1/5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher/sea salt
  • 1 Tbs. olive or coconut oil or Ghee
  • 1 egg white (slightly whipped)
  • 1.5 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Directions:
In a liquid measuring cup, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey.  Stir until all is dissolved, and set aside to activate and become foamy (appx 10min).

In a stand mixer, or stand alone bowl with hand mixer, add the dry ingredient.  Quickly mix to incorporate.  Add oil, egg white, and vinegar to the yeast mixture.  Stir to combine, and then add to the dry ingredient in mixing bowl.  Mix all ingredients together.  The mixture will be VERY wet, but this is necessary because the psyllium husk will "gel" over time causing the mixture to thicken substantially.  Add pizza dough to a greased bowl, and set in a warm spot to rise appx. 1-1.5 hours.

 very wet after just mixing

much firmer after rising for a little over an hour

risen dough turned out onto parchment lined baking sheet.  See those bubbles and texture?!

Simply use your hands to spread the dough between parchment paper and plastic wrap (I used Press N' Seal") into your desired shape.  The plastic wrap will peel right off.

 (The crust needs to be pre-baked before loading with toppings.  Do so at a fairly high temp like 425F until the crust browns over.  You do not want to under-bake this crust.  The pysllium husk keeps the bread VERY moist.)

Once pre-baked, load it up with yumminess, pop it back in a very high heat oven, and finish off with a broil on top!  I like my pizzas well done, but I can assure you the crust was NOT over-cooked, was still VERY "foldable", but yet had a great crunch on that outer ring.

SO.  GOOD.

Humane or Inhumane?

Recently, I had to "put down" another fur baby, my Cinna.  I originally adopted Cinna after having to put down my "Del."  I lost both to cancer in a about a 2 year span.  Just when my heart was beginning to mend from Del, it broke again with the passing of Cinna.  I miss them both terribly.

Since the subject of euthanasia has been on my mind frequently the past two years, I've found myself contemplating the ethical, humanistic, religious, and emotional viewpoints that often accompany the subject.  In particular, phrases of condolence such as: "[the animal] is so thankful to you for ending his/her pain" and "it's the humane way to die" and "don't let them suffer; you can ease their pain" run over and over again in my head while in the throws of grief.

I, personally, believe in the validity of all those phrases of support and compassion, but I also know that some of those offering those phrases don't necessarily believe their own spoken convictions when it comes to care of the terminally ill in their own species.  I'm talking about Assisted Suicide, Human Euthanasia, and "The Right to Die," which is illegal in most states.  How come I have never received a "don't help them pass over" or "let them suffer as long as long as possible" or "the humane thing to do is to let them die slowly and suffer through the inevitable" when dealing with my sick pups?

I'm not here to point fingers or attempt to change one's preference or personal beliefs on the subject matter , but I would like to open conversation for the reasoning behind a person's different set of standards for the acceptance of euthanasia for animals but the non-acceptance of euthanasia for human beings.  And, to be perfectly clear, I'm strictly speaking of the acceptance of euthanasia in the context of terminal disease and suffering, NOT elective suicide provoked by Depression, other emotional health disorders, or "undesirable" birth defects or disorders.


In Love and Remembrance of Del... 

...and Cinna

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"Good For You" Mayo

I mean "good for you" as in using high quality oils.  Check out THIS link for a informative guide on the goods and bads of oils.

I have a love/hate relationship with making mayonnaise.  It is either kind to me or a complete asshole.  Once you get a process down that works for you, STICK with it.  There are many different approaches to making mayo.  Here is mine.  It's really not difficult, but if I stray from these measurements, my food processor decides to hate me and will "break" the the mayo.

I've used avocado oil, walnut oil, macadamia oil, extra-light olive oil, and mixtures of these.  They all make great tasting mayo, but I would say the extra-light olive oil is definitely my least favorite, and the others are all amazing.  The picture below was made using half avocado oil and half walnut oil, and it was super yummy.


Ingredients:

  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (more or less to taste)
  • juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • 1 cup "healthy" oil listed above

In a food processor, add the egg, extra yolk, and lemon juice (have the dry mustard and salt set aside ready to go).  Pour oil into a liquid measuring cup.  Turn on food processor with egg mixture.  Through the lid's opening, SLOWLY begin to TRICKLE in the oil.  We're talking not even the tiniest of streams....quick drop by drop type movement.  Keep doing this until the emulsion begins to take place.  The color will begin to lighten, and the sound will become a more heavy "slapping" sound instead of a splashing one.

Once you see the emulsion taking place and becoming stable, you can increase the oil flow to a SLIGHT "stream."  Once you get about halfway through the oil, and the mayo has started to form, add the mustard and salt.  Continue slowly adding the rest of the oil until finished.  Voila!  Hopefully, you have mayo at this point!

Want to get creative???  You can flavor your mayo!  Here are some great add in's: chipotle peppers, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, a little sugar, Tabasco, lime juice or ACV vinegar instead of lemon, herbs like dill or parsley, curry powder, fresh garlic, and the list goes on!


Homemade mayo really is so superior to the commercial stuff, and when you use healthy oils in place of the unhealthy ones, it really can bean enjoyable treat for not just your tastebuds, but your healthful body, too :-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Misrepresented?

Orange is the New Black....who's watching it?  Supposedly, if you're not watching it, you're missing out.  I took it for a test drive a few weeks ago, but I didn't find myself going back to it after episode 3.  At the time, I wasn't sure why I stopped watching it, but I had a moment of true honesty with myself a few days ago which revealed that answer to me: sex...sex obsessed...lesbian sex, in particular...lots of nasty, raunchy lesbian sex and vulgar sexual innuendo.

I've never thought of myself as a homophobic.  In fact, I'm very supportive of my homosexual friends and their rights.  So, why was I so bothered by all the lesbian activity in Orange?

Sure, homosexual sex is always going to make me a little uncomfortable to view since I'm not homosexual, but I'm usually pretty good about separating myself and "norms" when assessing situations outside my comfort zone.  I was bothered by my apparent feelings of homophobia coming through!  Then it hit me.  I didn't have a problem with the general homosexuality present in the show; I had a problem with the sex only and how homosexual sex was being represented...dirty, raunchy, disrespectful, and calloused.  I started recalling other shows involving homosexuality and sex, and I found this "raunchy homosexual sex" trend to be pretty prevalent.  Sure, I know there a shows/movies out there representing a more respectful and sensual portrayal of homosexual sex, but I feel like those shows are in the minority.  I actually felt a sense of relief upon assessing my comfort level while watching homosexual movies like Piper Perabo's Imagine Me and You and the infamous Brokeback Mountain.  The love, respect, and sensuality were more apparent in these shows which resulted in me having a more comfortable experience as a hetero-viewer, but I haven't found this to be the norm for LGBT media.

Maybe my assessment is inaccurate as my LGBT media experience is most definitely not on the "experienced" side of the spectrum.  Or, maybe I'm just a sexual prude, and I simply have an issue with rough, animalistic sex in general whether it be gay or straight.

So, my question is this: Do homosexual people feel cheated or misrepresented by media's portrayal of homosexual sex?  Do you think people view homosexuals as being sex-obsessed because of media?  Do you feel like the sex represented is accurate or false and exaggerated?  If you feel like it's a false representation, do you feel like the media's representation of homosexuality plays a big part in stunting homosexuality's acceptance in a heterosexual world?  I'd love to hear some of your opinions!

For the record, I restarted watching Orange and am enjoying it.  The character development is brilliant!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dress Pants

(Disclaimer:  I'm making generalizations, here.  Not everyone is a twat.  Get your back down!)

I feel sorry for men.  There!  Yes, I said it; I have a legit sympathy for you dudes.

Women always talk about their low-self esteems due to the ferociously competitive and judgmental playing field set-up by their peers and media.  "Must be pretty - must be skinny - must be a sex goddess - must be pretty - must be skinny - must be a sex goddess."  It's an exhausting game I, personally, do not choose to play, but there's no denying those assumptions and judgments ARE THERE, and they can bring an unmanageable amount of stress, anxiety, and depression among us.  But, we're not alone in this cruel world...

I have recently become aware of a different set of prejudices that the female community does not experience nearly as heavily as the male community, and that would be "the 'appeared' success" game.  I'll explain the "appeared" part later.  As I've grown up, I'll admit I've ashamedly played a role as an assessor in this game primarily due to social convention.  It wasn't until the last few years that I was made truly aware of the unfair judgments and subjective assessments I, as well as many others, were making upon individuals in the male community.  Since working on my spiritual self and attempting to achieve honest personal happiness, I can not deny the apologies I owe to those who have received my silent prejudices.

As men age and mature, they are heavily pressured about and assessed upon their nature of work and success level.  Period.  And, it's not just women who are judging men; it's men judging other men that's probably the worst!  I think women initially started their judgment due to fear and practicality: "We need money to survive.  How would we support ourselves?  I'll have to depend on his salary because I'll never make as much he will."  That's how it started, at least.  Then, those judgments made the swing from necessity to materialism.  Men, on the other hand, are judgmental in this area due to power and pride.  Men feel manly knowing they're the breadwinner of the family, or that they have their own office to reference, or that they're "businessy" and powerful.  They feel they've earned the right to look down on non-business world men.  The older I get, the more I see it, and the more it sickens me.  I'm so tired of the rat race.  I'm so tired of the false assumptions.  I'm so tired of unrealistic "standards."  I'm so tired of the unfair character judgments made simply due to a man's work apparel.

I stress man-to-man judgment because women do not feel the extent of this kind of pressure like men do.  We just need to be cute and stay in our little place-holder jobs, like teaching, secretarial work, bookkeeping, reception, etc.  Hell, it's easy to play the women's rat race if you wish.  Just slop on pounds of make-up and wear trendy clothes.  In regard to the men, it's not easy to go out and find a $100K/year job on a whim.  It's basically like telling a man: "You will never get married or be able to afford children, be judged as a credible man, and will always be looked upon as lazy...unless you find a job where you wear dress pants (so at least that way you can start lying about your salary)."

I've summed up the business world rat race as so:
  • I can guarantee you that simply because you are forced to wear dress pants at work, it DOES NOT mean you are automatically a) successful, b) powerful, c)smart/educated, or most importantly d) rich. 
  • Tradesmen make a great, financially stable living.  Period.  We will need plumbers, auto mechanics, electricians, etc. 'til the end of time.  They make way more money than many of us dress pant wearing workers.  WTF?!
  • Wait, you mean to tell me that my college degree and dress pants don't automatically put me in high earner's tax bracket?  Again...WTF?!
  • Double wait...I can not drive an old car because I wear dress pants to work???  Oh shit, someone might notice I make less than a waiter/ress!  How will I pay for this thing?  Oh, don't worry about that; you wear dress pants to work.  Just fake it.
  • "You shouldn't marry a non-business world worker...you wear dress pants to work, duh!  You're above that....even though he works harder and longer than you do and makes just as much or more money than I do.  But, who cares about that...where are his dress pants?!"   I can personally attest to working loads harder as an $8/hr plant nursery worker than I ever have in a job post college. 
  • "So, you're the breadwinner of the family, right?  Because you wear dress pants at your job, right?"  Ha!  Ugh, no.
  • "Poor thing...her husband's a dead beat.  He has one of those jobs where he works on the weekends and doesn't wear dress pants.  It's a shame..."  

Yuck, yuck, yuck!  How terrible are we as a society to be making these unjustified low-blows and assumptions about people?!  Why is it perfectly ok for a woman to be a teacher, but when a man is a teacher making a teacher's salary we snub our noses at them?  How is it that an HVAC technician making $45K/year is not considered as satisfactory as, say, an assistant attorney making $45K/year?

And, outside the facts of who actually makes more money despite their work attire and environment, the real point is we should have no concern with someone else's financial business or pass blind judgments on such shallow circumstances.  It's the ugliest thing we can do as loving human beings.  I'm trying hard to catch myself doing this and putting a stop to it.

Fu@% the dress pants.  I'm wearing Chacos to work today just to put a kink in the system ;-)


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Coconut Creamed Tomato Basil Smothered Chicken

Last night I posted an Instagram pic of a plate of one of my favorite dinner meals as of late and received requests for the "recipe."  Well, in my savory cooking, I never have a recipe, but I tried to piece one together for you.  In Layman's terms, this dish is basically sauteed chicken and mushrooms smothered in simple Italian based red sauce creamed up with coconut milk.  So, run with it as you want; modify it to your likes/dislikes/preferences...I don't care.



Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken thighs (could certainly use breasts, but thighs are best!!!  Dark meat > white meat)
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms sliced
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 2- cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1- cup chicken stock (for deglazing pan; could certainly use red wine here, too/instead)
  • 1- can fire roasted diced tomatoes roughly blended in a blender/ food processor/hand immersion blender)  
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil or ~ 2 tsp-1 Tbs. of dried basil
  • ~2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1/2 can full fat coconut milk
  • salt/pepper/onion & garlic powder to taste


In a large cast iron skillet/saute/sauce pan on med/high heat, brown salted/peppered chicken pieces on both sides.  They don't have to be completely cooked through at this point.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add additional olive/coconut oil to pan, and saute mushrooms, onion, and garlic until slightly browned and caramelized (salt this mixture).  At this point, your pan should have quite a bit of caramelization on the bottom.  With heat still on med-high, add the chicken stock/red wine/mix of both to deglaze the pan scraping up all those brown bits and juices.  That liquid should reduce fairly quick.

Add blended can of tomatoes, parsley, basil, honey.  Stir to combine with mushroom mixture and return chicken to the pan.  Chicken should be mostly smothered with mixture.  You'll probably need to add additional water to the mixture in order for sauce to almost cover chicken.  Don't fret; it will eventually cook out.  Cover and simmer on low to cook chicken and tenderize for about 15-30 minutes (depending on how long you have; chicken thighs don't need much time to cook or tenderize).

Then, uncover and continue to simmer in order to reduce the sauce quite a bit.  Once sauce has reduced to a pretty thick consistency, add 1/2 can of coconut milk.  Stir to incorporate, and turn off heat.  Season to taste (will need to add salt again most likely).  Let cool a bit, and serve!


I suck at writing savory recipes.  In a nut shell:

  • saute and season everything, deglaze pan, add tomaters and herbs, cook and reduce, add coconut milk...done!  

If you want tasty food, then SALT IT!  The difference between "edible" food and "amazing" food is salt.




Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blog Challenge: Day 12

What are you most looking forward to in the next six months?

  1. My 30th birthday!  Aug. 10!  I love birthdays...but, I still have no plans.  Hmmmm?
  2. My sister and co. are coming to visit late September!  I don't get to see them enough, and I hope my nephew still remembers who I am.
  3. My beau has some exciting changes and possibilities on his plate right now, and I'm super pumped for him and how these changes will play a part in his life and our relationship the next months to come.
  4. I love Fall...all the holidays...the change of climate...leaves falling...festivals...those first real cold fronts...after work bike rides...
  5. Pleasurably drinking beer with the beau at Phoenix again ;-)
  6. My girl, O, finishes school out in silly Florida come early December!  I don't know if her future career will bring her back to SA/ATX area, but I selfishly hope it does.
  7. I'm hoping to make a trip out to California in the near future to see my dear friend, E's, new home in Long Beach!  I don't get out of TX much unless it's on route to Colorado, so this is a big deal for me.
  8. Hank is coming into the world!  I can't wait to see HMK as a mama ;-)
  9. Finding out if I will be an aunt to another little girl or boy!
  10. And I'm most looking forward to all the cool people I have yet to met, new places I have yet to greet, things I have yet to learn, and experiences I have yet to embrace.