Friday, March 4, 2011

Checking Back With Zac

This is Zac...

Zach has a rare condition called Giant Congenital Melanocytic Nevus.  It's basically a giant birthmark over most of his body.  This is my friend Amie's son, please check out and follow her blog at

Please read her first post which I re-posted below:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Starting Out

I am so excited that you decided to learn a little more about my son Zachary's condition.  I hope to educate and help people understand this condition as well as the treatments for it with every post.  Most people have moles.  However,  a giant nevus is that on a much bigger scale.  Zachary's nevus covers almost his entire back down to the top of his butt.  It wraps around the front of his torso.  He also has several 'satellites' which are small random nevi in various shapes and sizes all over his little body, a few are pretty big (bigger than a quarter) and a little hairy; most look like he has been splattered with coffee - those nevi are not raised or hairy.  He had a few at birth, mostly bigger ones but these little birthmarks just kept multiplying until I couldn't keep count anymore.

A lot of people have wondered why we would bother to have such a large nevus or birthmark removed.  I mean, God obviously made this beautiful boy this way...why change a thing.  A nevus can be more than just an unattractive, hairy mole.  There can be issues with decreased body cooling because the nevus skin has fewer functioning sweat glands and too little fat where the nevus is located (something very scary for the climate we live in).  The skin can be extremely delicate and tear easily, requiring restricted activities.  People with large nevi have a higher risk of skin cancer.

The second question most people have is how do you remove such a large birthmark.  One procedure, the one Zac will be having next week. Is called tissue expansion.  The first surgery is done to place an 'expander' under non-nevus skin to expand the skin.  The expanders are filled once a week (at home) with a saline for a 12 week period.  The bigger the expander, the more good skin you have to replace the nevus skin.  When the expander is taken out, the nevus is cut out (several layers) and good skin is pulled over that area.  This works better than skin grafting because the expanded skin already has its own blood supply.
The surgeon we have chosen is located in Chicago.  Dr. Bauer has been doing nevus removal for over 30 years!  So we know Zac will be in good hands.  Not to mention, we know that God is looking after Zac and guiding the hands of this most skilled surgeon.  These are pictures of the giant nevus on Zac's back.  The expander will be placed in his upper left shoulder.
To learn more on this condition, you can visit

Amie is currently putting together a cookbook to help pay for medical expenses.  If you would like to contribute a recipe, please contact Amie at

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Limp Bizkit - Re-Arranged

This was on my iPod today...

Diet-Detox Soup

Whenever I go through a diet detox, like I'm doing now, I make this soup.  The only carbs it has is veggies, and the spices in it are great for de-toxing.  You could also switch it up into a tortilla soup by adding a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips. 

  • Olive Oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 cup of chopped turnip
  • 2 large carrots, cubed
  • 4 cups of chicken stock, I use free range organic
  • 2 large zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups torn, fresh spinach
  • 1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the store (Or make your own!)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin

For those of you were like me and didn't know...This is a turnip.  You can peel it with a carrot peeler before you chop it.

  • Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat and add garlic and onion. Saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add turnip and carrots and saute another 5 minutes.
  • Pour in chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, shred the chicken.  I only used white meat.
Shaundee really likes this part!

  • Add zuchinni and chicken and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  • Add spinach and spices and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Geto Boys - Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta!

I listened to this while doing planks at the gym.

Veggie (or not) Bread


When this App came on sale for my iTouch, I broke down and bought it.  Every day, I  get a notification of a recipe I could make for dinner that night.  I've already tried three recipes, 2 of which were good.  This was one of the original recipes, but I adapted mine to what I had on hand.  My interpretation is below:
  • Crusty loaf of artisan bread
  • 3 small or 2 large portabello mushroom caps sliced into strips
  • 1 large red bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 4 green onions cut in 1 inch lengths
  • 1/2 cucumber sliced paper thin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp of crushed garlic, or 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1/2 cup grated Gouda cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Set your oven to broil on low.  If you don't have a low setting just watch it carefully.  Adjust your rack to the second position from the top. 
  2. Put the sliced portabello, red bell pepper, and onion on a foil lined cookie sheet.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix veggies to coat and broil 4-6 minutes, tossing after every 2 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Stir together mayo and garlic, and spread on thick slices of the artisan bread
  6. Place 3-4 slices of cucumber on top of the mayo.
  7. Remove the veggies and foil off of the cookie sheet and line cookie sheet with new foil.
  8. Place the bread on the cookie sheet and top the bread with the broiled veggies.
  9. Sprinkle the tops with the Gouda cheese.
  10. Broil 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted and the edges of the bread a lightly toasted.

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Weight, 8 months off...3 Months On >(

When I was in high school, I never really thought of myself as a bean pole, but after digging through old photos of myself with big hair and metal-studded cowboy boots, I was a stick.  I was also like most people, not really caring about health or exercise.  For the most part, I skipped gym classes to go to pottery lab.  But 20 years later the "I should'ves" are creeping up to haunt me.

As a child, I was very active, taking the typical ballet, tap and gymnastics classes. But after four years of jazz dancing, I tried out for freshman drill team and didn't get picked.  I felt so rejected and hurt, I mean I thought I was a great dancer after all that time at jazz class. (That bad-80's-spiral-perm-big-haired-skinny-assed-bitch Redskinette didn't know what she was doing when she didn't pick me for the team!) So I turned in my leotard for heavy metal t-shirts and left school grounds to go smoke, (which I constantly got suspended for).

I grew up in a household where my parents never took us for fast food, my mom cooked healthy meals and I (occasionally) joined my mom at her Jazzercise classes.  So my bad eating habits evolved on my own.  Sure I was a stick, but I always said when I got my own place I would eat nothing but chocolate chip cookie dough...with a spoon.

I once read in a magazine (not sure which one), you gain and may lose weight during the holidays, but typically one pound always lingers.  That doesn't sound like much, but after 20 years, I'm definitely about 20 pounds heavier than I was in high school.  My bad eating habits didn't help, I would skip breakfast only to grab a mid-morning, vending-machine candy bar at work because I was starving.  And I either didn't have money for lunch, or I forgot to pack one (which was usually mac and cheese or something like that).

Throughout the years however, I would see those hot, toned ladies either in magazines or on the street or wherever.  I'm not talking the skinny anorexic-meth-smoking models you see in fashion magazines, but the toned, healthy, six-packed Madonna-armed women on the covers of fitness magazines, and I secretly always wanted to look like that.

 Jessica Putnam Courtesy FitnessRX for Women Magazine

So about two years ago I joined Fitness Works.  I religiously went to a yoga class and a Body Pump class (weight training) every week.  I also went at least two more times to work on the weight machines and the elliptical.  All with no-results.  In retrospect it was because I hadn't changed my diet at all.

Finally one day I saw a new trainer, Kimberly, working there and she looked exactly the way I wanted to look.  I walked up to her (during one of her training sessions...oops), and asked her if she would provide one of those free physical assessments that the gym provided.  She said yes and she would come talk to me after she was done with her client.  She was very nice and we talked about exactly what my goals were.  She told me about a new Group Personal Training class that was being taught and gave me a pass for a free week.

Meanwhile, I subscribed to FitnessRX Magazine for Women and I joined their forum.  I met a lot of wonderful women who were either getting ready for competitions, or women who were just like me.  There were also some women who once had the body, and were trying to get it back.  I got a lot of  encouragement, tips and suggestions, and there were even posts of everyone's work out.

My first Group Personal Training class, (GPT), was the hardest workout I had done since, well...ever.  It was loaded with kettle bell swings, plyometrics, cardio and resistance strength training.  It's very comparable to bootcamps, if you've ever done those.  I couldn't finish the last section of kettle bell swings, so I sat down and caught my breath.  (I cried in the car later, I was shaking so bad at what I just put my body through.)  Kimberly taught me that day that the reason I couldn't do it anymore was because my body hit that muscle-failure stage.  It wasn't that I was weak, or out of shape...just that my body did everything it could do.  That stuck with me, and now whenever I do train, I work for that failure, just pushing myself a little more each time. 

Fast forward 8 months later, and I was going to GPT classes 3 times a week, (kicking ass), and going two more days a week doing weight training.  I trained with Kimberly several times 1 on 1, and she had given me a diet plan to use.  It sucked at first, a carb-cycling diet eating TONS of food.  I literally had to re-teach myself everything I thought I knew about diet and weight loss.  Basically, eat more, exercise more, lose more.  You just have to know what you're doing, and Kimberly and other GPT coaches taught me how to do just that.  I was in the best shape of my life. 

Then there was a death in the family.

I don't really know how it all happened, but after the estate was settled, 3 months later I had stopped the gym, stopped my diet and MOST of my weight had come back on.  8 months to take off, three months to put back on.  It's not fair.  Again with the " I should'ves'.  I couldn't get to the gym like I wanted to, I should've gone when I could, but I stopped all together.  I stopped my diet, I should've been more conscious of what I was eating.  I even stopped going to the forum that had helped me so much.

One day (recently), I stepped on the scale.  I had been in denial that anything bad was happening to my body.  It was a shock.  And the prospect of starting all over, working so hard all over again, made me not want to do it all over again.  I trekked myself to the gym and there was the other blow...all my trainers, including Kimberly, weren't working there any more.  I think I stayed in the gym for 15 minutes that day.

But looking at myself in the mirror and seeing myself in pictures, compared to 4 months ago, I'm more determined to do it than ever.  I know what to do, I was taught that.  I started writing on the forum again and decided to post my journey on my blog.  This is that Journey, to see if I can do this over again, all on my own.  Theoretically I know what to do, but could I, the most undisciplined person I know, get there again? 

My goal is to have the weight off by April.  At least 10 pounds by then.  I will chronicle my journey by posting my eats and process at the gym.  With determination and support, I'm sure I can get there again!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

No Knit Scarf

My Mother

My family still lives in Northern Virginia, and whenever this time of year comes around, we always go back and forth about how beautiful it is here in Phoenix, and how bone-chilling cold it is back there.  I remember one time I was floating around in my pool in March, and I believe they had a snow storm that same day.

So when my sister celebrated a recent birthday, I wanted to make something that would keep her warm.  I found directions for a no-knit scarf on Martha Stewart's webpage.  I pulled on some Capri's and flip flops, hopped in my truck and drove to Hobby Lobby with my windows rolled down, the air keeping me cool as the hot sun bore down.

After I picked out my yarn, I went home to tackle the project.  Here are my interpreted directions...

  1. Cut 12 pieces of bulky-weight yarn to about 1 1/2 times the desired length of the final scarf. I found a scarf that I currently had and measured it against that.
  2. Divide yarn into 4 bunches of 3 strands each.
  3. Tie 2 bunches together with a square knot, leaving 6 inches of fringe at end; repeat with remaining bunches.
  4. Martha's instructions say to pin the knots to a piece of foam board. But I didn't have any foam board.  you can tape the ends down to a coffee table, or do what I did, My coffee table has drawers, so I shoved the ends into the drawer and shut it.  Either way, you need to find some way to hold the ends down as you knot.
  5. Knot inner 2 bunches of yarn together, spacing knot about 1 inch from existing knots, then knot left and right bunches together. Alternate knotting the inner bunches and the left and right ones, spacing knots evenly apart, until about 6 inches of yarn remain on the end. Finish so that final knots mirror opposite end, and trim to even the ends.
Here are directions for the square knot...

  • Start with two pieces of rope that are close in diameter, in this case, you're using two bunches of yarn.   We'll call them rope A and rope B for ease in describing this process.

  • Hold the end of rope A in your left hand and the end of rope B in your right hand.

  • Cross rope A over rope B to form an X.    

    Cross A over B again, forming another X.

  • Wrap A once to the left around B.

  • Pull on the free ends to tighten the knot.

  • It was kind of awkward in the beginning as I was learning how to tie the knot, but once I found my rhythm, it went really fast.  The whole thing took me maybe an hour and a half.  it's a great craft, even for a beginner crafter. 

    My sister called and said she LOVED the scarf.  As the snow is still melting back east from the the big storms this year, I think I'll go search for my next project out on my patio!

    Wrap A once to the right around B, just like the first step in tying a bow in your shoelace. A is now sticking out to the right and B is to the left.

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