Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Fun...!

I can across this wonderful idea for a holiday-"ish" post. My friend Darby from "Life with the Hawleys" answered the questions, and now I will answer them. If you decide to repost, please let me know so I can read YOUR answers :)

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? 
I used to like egg nog, however I think I am allergic to eggs so none for me this year. I like homemade hot chocolate the best. I made it last year with dark chocolate and it was amazing!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa as ALWAYS wrapped the gifts. Actually, he always wrapped my gifts in one color paper and my sister's in another. Then he would leave a note to tell us which wrapping was ours. Santa has continued this tradition with Ivan and me. 

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? 
This is a tough one. Every time I see white lights I LOVE them. However, I grew up with colored lights and they make me remember my childhood the most. We have 3 trees, the main one and a small one have colored, and the other small one has white. 

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Yup...although I am pretty sure we forget it is there!

5. When do you put your decorations up? 
Haha .... well... years ago (and this year) it has always been the Friday after Thanksgiving. However the last couple years, they were up before Halloween... :)

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? 
I love Chili  Rellano pie! It is this cheese dish we always have Christmas morning. It is so ridiculously good. I also love my moms Christmas candy and my dad's fudge. 

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? 
One year, my sister and I woke up at 4:00 in the morning to open gifts. My parents decided that was the end of that. So they started a tradition that we would have to hear Christmas music playing before we could come out of our rooms (we always slept in the same room on Christmas eve, up until the day I got married). When my dad would turn on the Christmas music, we would BOLT out of bed.... 

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I was 11 or 12 I think?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? 
My sister and I always open the gifts to each other. 

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? 
Our main tree is a collection of different ornaments. However, it is covered in Wallace silver bells. My mom started collection one each year since the year I was born. She gave them all to me when I got married. Ivan and I have started a similar tradition. We are collecting Swarovski crystal snowflakes for each year we have been married. On of our smaller trees is decorated in all baking/cooking gingerbread ornaments!

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? 
I love it... but after Christmas, I want it gone!

12. Can you ice skate? 

13. What is on your Christmas list this year? 
I asked for a SLR camera. I am pretty sure I am getting that. :) 

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
 I like being with my family and having some time off to really enjoy the time. 

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Definitely my mom's Christmas candy and my dad's fudge (although I don't if that is dessert... it is more a snack-all-day type of treat!)

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? 
This changes from time to time. I do like how we open our stockings before breakfast. 

17. What tops your tree? 
My parents had a tree topper that I loved as a child. It was a precious moments angel (glass and all). When I got married, I asked if I could have her. I couldn't find any thing else that I liked more. 

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
I like giving....it is seriously a problem. I spent WAY too much money on my sister's kid and he hasn't even been BORN!

19. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? 
Yum! ...however they have gluten in them so they are a no no for me. 

20. Favorite Christmas movie?
I have no clue.. I love many of them. It is either the Muppet Christmas carol or the Grinch (with Jim Carrey). I also LOVE The Santa Clause

21. Weirdest Christmas song?
I want a hippopotamus for Christmas ... however I think it is really funny!

22. What is your favorite Christmas song?
Um.... this is really hard. I am big fan of Transiberian Orchestra. My dad has been a fan club member from the beginning so we always get good seats at the concerts. However, if I was to pick my favorite non-TSO song, it would be Drummer Boy by Whiteheart (it HAS to be the Whiteheart version).

Provide your answers below or link to where you answered them!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flying and all its Annoyances

So this last weekend, I went down to Florida for my sister's baby shower. I flew out on Friday night (arriving at midnight) and returned on Sunday night (arriving at midnight). It was definitely a long weekend (I will be posting on the actual trip a bit later). This post is about airplanes...and the people on them. There are some things that just erk me when it comes to traveling (I have been flying the last three weeks straight!). I am going to lay them all out:

1) People putting briefcases in overhead bins.

I really don't understand this. The flight attendants say over and over again, please put your small carry on items under the seat in front of you. These people just don't care. They do it anyway. I saw many people have to check their suitcases because people continue to do this! It is so rude! Honestly a good way to fix this problem would be for the flight attendants to start pulling briefcases out and saying "who does this belong to?, sir you need to put this under the seat".... people would not want to be called out like that and I guarantee it would stop.

2) People who don't realize their weight.

I am NOT trying to be rude here. Everyone needs to fly. However, if you weight 200-1000 lbs, you need to be "aware" of it. On both of my flights I had people put their arms on the armrests and basically limit my room. I would have to scoot all the way over the side of my seat and sometimes that wasn't even enough. I am not even talking about hips here. You can't help the size of your hips to some extent. I am talking about arm rests. If you are going to invade the other person's space, don't put your arm on the armrest. My last flight was ridiculous, I seriously almost asked the guy "sir can you please keep your arm in your chair".... because he was playing some game on his phone and his arm was so far in my space that I couldn't move my arms without touching him....

3) People who smell.
Take a shower before you get on a plane... that is all I am going to say!!

4) Chair back pushers

I do not mind people putting their seats back. That is perfectly fine. I do this myself. However, every flight I have been on recently, I get a chair back pusher. This is someone who sits in front of you and bounces against the chair back as if it will go back further. I am certain one of these times, the chair is just going to break and they are going to fall on my lap.

I hate to end this on 4 since it is not an increment of 5... but these are the things I have noticed... Is there anything that bothers you when you fly??

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Told You So...

Recently, I was up in TN for two weeks. The client that I am on just happens to be 45 minutes away from where my parents live in TN. Therefore, I have been able to spend some time with them. Last Tuesday, I went to something called "Steppin Out". It is basically a coffee house type of show with local talents. Anyone can come though. So, I signed up to sing. One of my mom's friends runs the show so she signed me up. The Lady who runs the show (RhodyJane) is really nice and is a very talented musician. Since all the music in the has to be acoustic, RhodyJane was going to play my song (with pretty much no practice other than watching a YouTube video). Anyway, this was my first time ever singing this song (other than in my shower haha!). Below is the video. Although I typically do not post videos of myself singing because 1) I don't like hearing myself and 2) sometimes I sound out of pitch to myself. Anyway, this song sounded fairly decent in my opinion. I did peak the mic a few times which made it sound somewhat off pitch (clearly I should have backed away from the mic when I got a bit louder). Anyway, without further ado:

So what did you think? I thought it was ok...

Don't forget to comment and follow!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Graves, Gluten Intolerance, and Living with it

Hi all,

I know I haven’t been posting my Monday Ministry post liked promised. It has been really tough to have writing time since I have been traveling. I have been in TN for work the last couple of weeks, so it has been difficult. I also have been trying to get some ideas for topics. I put a poll on facebook, so head on over there to vote! I know I also have promised some new design changes. Trust me, these are coming. I just have to learn how to use photoshop first!! Haha!

This entry is going to be an update on some recent developments in my health. I have been dealing with some stresses that I have never had to deal with in my life. It has definitely been an adventure which I am hoping will end soon.

When I returned from China in July, I decided to go to the doctor. The reason I wanted to go was because for the past few years I have had small dizzy spells maybe once a month or so. Anyway, they probably weren’t a big deal, but I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a heart issue. The doctor decided to run a blood test. My TSH levels were almost non-existent. This was very surprising to me because it was indicative of hyperthyroid. Let me give you some background information as to why this was so surprising to me. People with hyperthyroid typically exhibit symptoms such as drastic weight loss, and loose bowels. In 2009, I was in the ER for a short amount of time because my stomach hurt so badly. It happened to be constipation ( I know I know.. TMI). I had a blood test done then because everyone thought that I had hypothyroidism. My blood results came back clean… perfectly healthy thyroid. This was surprising to me because I have so much trouble losing weight and I never have loose bowels. This time around in 2011, my blood results were opposite of what I would expect. The doctor recommended that I see and endocrinologist.

When I went to see the endocrinologist, I had two different tests done. First, I had another blood test to test the thyroid panel. I also had an iodine uptake test. All the tests came back indicative of Graves disease. Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder where your antibodies attack your thyroid making it hyperthyroid. This specific endocrinologist only gave me two options: 1) radioactive iodine, and 2) remove the thyroid. Radioactive iodine basically kills parts of your thyroid. The majority of people who have the treatment end up completely killing the thyroid. With either method, I would have to be on thyroid medication for the rest of my life to supplement my thyroid hormone (since after killing my thyroid I would be hypothyroid). Additionally, the radioactive iodine treatment would prevent me from being around pets and pregnant women for a few weeks… it just didn’t sound healthy to me.

Anyway, I am not one to just take the opinion of one doctor. I went in search for a natural solution. To me, it just didn’t make sense that I had no symptoms, and was perfectly healthy in 2009. My first step was to get off all my medications. I got off my birth control and my advair (for asthma). After getting off the meds, I went to another doctor 2 months later. This doctor I really liked. He listened to me. I told him I didn’t have any symptoms and he listened. He ran another blood test. The blood test again showed I had Graves disease. He gave me another option though. He said he could put me on anti-thyroid medications for awhile and see if it takes care of the issue. I thanked him for the opinion, but I still was not fully satisfied.

I spoke with a natural doctor and he suggested that I go vegan. This day made me depressed. I started looking at vegan recipes after work one day and realized I would be missing out on every food that I loved. After a few hours of searching… I started to break down and cry. I just couldn’t do it… I would rather go on the thyroid medication, then go on a vegan diet. At this point, I called my parents in tears, feeling like there was no hope remaining. My mom suggested that I pay to have gluten intolerance test performed. The comprehensive allergen test (including milk, eggs, soy, etc) was around $500! I was extremely thankful to my wonderful parents that paid for more than half of it for me, and my sister and her husband who chipped in their tithe money to help me. The test itself wasn’t complicated but it definitely wasn’t pleasant. All I will say is that it was a fecal exam… so you can just assume the rest.

Let me take a step back and explain the reason for this test. There is a strong link between autoimmune disorders and gluten intolerance. Many doctors don’t test for allergens, therefore, the symptoms are treated without treating the cause: the allergy. Additionally, doctors can test for celiac disease (severe gluten intolerance) through a blood test. However, if you are gluten intolerance (not celiac) you can still have many problems . This is why it was important for me to get this test. Gluten intolerance can also be more present as you get older. This may be why I have been perfectly healthy until now.

Anyway, a few days ago I got my test results back. Sure enough… I am gluten intolerant. Although it sounds weird that I would be “glad” I am gluten intolerant, it is better than possibly having Graves disease. Since I have been traveling in TN, I have had to find gluten free meals at restaurants. Thankfully, many restaurants now have a gluten free menu (you just have to ask). I have also found so many helpful websites and recipes. I am praying that keeping a gluten free diet will help me with both of my autoimmune disorders-my Graves disease and asthma. In a few months, I plan to go retest for hyperthyroid. I hope that this new discovery will help my situation. I think it will! I also am hoping that it will help me with my asthma (which I have had all my life). Although many people would look on this discovery as limiting, I see it as liberating. I can’t even imagine life without asthma and I will be glad to get rid of this thyroid issue! I have already done some shopping and although it is difficult it is doable. I am going to get a thryoid test done again in about 3 months and see if anything has improved. (I am excited about possibly losing some weight finally!!!). Thanks to all those who had been praying for me. Please continue to pray for me as I wait to get my thyroid re-test in the next few months.

Btw, the food blog will probably be slightly changing. Although I would love to eat out once a week, it may not be doable with the condition. Every time I go out to eat, I am risking cross-contamination.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Food Friday: Ruggles Green

I have posted a food entry to Just A Couple of Critics.

We went to Ruggles Green near the Memorial City Mall and gave it 8 forks. Click the link here to see the full review!

Thanks for visiting! Be sure to follow Just A Couple of Critics too! Please feel free to leave comments, I love your feedback.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Food Friday: Tiny Boxwoods

I have posted a food entry to Just A Couple of Critics.

We went to Tiny Boxwoods in Downtown Houston and gave it 7 forks. Click the link here to see the full review!

Thanks for visiting! Be sure to follow Just A Couple of Critics too! Please feel free to leave comments, I love your feedback.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Food Friday: Pie Town Cafe

I have posted a food entry to Just A Couple of Critics.

We went to Pie Town in the Woodlands and gave it 8 forks. Click the link here to see the full review!

Thanks for visiting! Be sure to follow Just A Couple of Critics too! Please feel free to leave comments, I love your feedback.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Food Friday: HB Japanese Steakhouse

As promised in my previous post, I have posted a food entry to Just A Couple of Critics.

We went to HB Japanese Steakhouse and gave it 8 forks. Click the link below to see the full review!

Thanks for visiting! Be sure to follow Just A Couple of Critics too! Please feel free to leave comments, I love your feedback.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blog Revamp!

So I am going to switch a few things around on the blog so get ready. They may not all occur at once but should all develop over the next few weeks.

 Due to a suggestion from Beth, I am going to do some "blog pooling". I currently have three blogs, and I am going to combine some of them. Additionally, I am going to try to create a structure that will keep my posting throughout the week. So here is a short explanation of how it is going to work.

1) I have three blogs they are:

  • Portugal Pondering-Family Blog for random posts and projects
  • Mighty Fortress Ministries-My ministry blog 
  • Just a Couple of Critics-Houston food blog
 I am going to combine 2 and integrate the third... here is how it is going to work

  • Monday: Might Fortress Ministry Post or "Mighty Fortress Monday"
I am not going to get rid of my ministry URL but I may not be updating it. Mondays I will be posting a new bible study post on the Portugal Ponderings blog. Basically I will be posting on Portugal Ponderings what I would have posted on "http://www.amightyfortressministries.blogspot.com" 

  • Friday: Food Friday
This blog will not be removed. It has too much special formatting and design aspects that I like. I also like this blog being independent. However, I will like to that blog from Portugal Ponderings every Friday with a note on what type of restaurant is being reviewed.

I am hoping that this new format will not only increase my blog posts (keeping me accountable), but will also increase readership because ya'll will only have to go to one blog (you can be linked to the food blog from this blog).

2) Changing the Blog format

This blog definitely needs a facelift. It is a bit outdated so I am going to change it around. Additionally, Ivan will not be posting on the blog more than likely. He doesn't really post now, so I am just going to remove the complication of figuring out when he posts or I post.

Anyway, I hope you all will enjoy these changes.... some of them should take place this Monday!
Also, please be understanding as the formatting may be somewhat rough as I am trying out new things.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Laundry Room Makeover-Need your opinion!

So I need your opinion on a question at the end of this blog.. please help me out!!

So this last labor day weekend, Ivan and I embarked upon a large project. We expected to finish it last weekend, and as always, things didn't move as quickly as estimated. I am super bad of course at taking pictures in progress... so there are some substantial gaps in the pictures below.

Anyway, so maybe you will recall this "beginning" picture of our laundry room. We got that plastic shelving system as a temporary solution but it just wasn't holding enough.  Also, see that shelf above the washer and dryer, it was so high and far back that you practically needed a stool to reach it. (Therefore, we ended up just putting stuff on the washer and dryer).

So, task 1 in the project was to paint, but first we wanted to remove that dang shelf. Easier said than done. I started by digging the nails out one by one. That was taking forever, so Ivan tried a different approach: smash the shelf with a hammer until it pops off. Amazingly it worked, with minimal damage to the shelf too. One problem that we had was the brown rod. It was in two panels of wood on the side. It was almost impossible to get the wood or the rod off before the other (they would have to come off together). That would be extremely difficult, so we took a different approach. [ENTER BRANCH TRIMMERS]. Yes, we cut the rod off. It took less than 30 seconds to do it too! However, we noticed the first little hitch in our project.

Yes, that is a hole... all the way through the drywall. Happy day! Anyway, so this was the second of our probably 20 trips to Home Depot. We got two drywall patches, and patched it up. Additionally, the paint on the wall was so thick that I could peel it with my hand. Therefore, we had to spackle the unpainted part just to make it even with the painted section.  

Oh and I forgot to mention we have a TON of cleaning products etc? They have been out in the hallway for over a week. They have finally been put back in their proper places. 

Oh yes, and our walls are textures, so after we spackled, and sanded... we applied texture. See below:

 Luckily the texture dried within 30 minutes so we could start painting. Painting was a whole different story. We had to use 3 coats of the Lemon Souffle (painter+primer). We were NOT happy with that. That type of paint is supposed to cover in 1 coat... and it took 3!

We did paint behind the washer and dryer... we just did it at the end because we couldn't get out of the room when they were moved out.

and... there it is ... all painted!!! Now, for the shelves (and another trip to Home Depot).

Here is Ivan with his new birthday gift (a drill driver, and impact driver set).

 Putting the shelving in.... and this is where I failed to get any more pictures until the very end.

Here is the completed project. The shelf with nothing on it, is larger than all the others and is for folding clothes. Anyway, here is where I need your help/opinion....

I stenciled the shelf like below. I am unsure if it looks tacky or not. I want it too really look put together, so I need your opinion. If it does look tacky, I will just paint it back to white... easy!

Please help!!! Let me know what you think of my shelf.. by leaving a comment.