Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Short hiatus

Hi there. I still have a lot to share with you from my European escapades (I have only shared half of my adventures), but the last few weeks have been a doozy. 

This time of year is always rough. For me, the holidays means family time. I love my family here, but I miss my parents and my brothers. We may not celebrate with turkey dinners, decorate trees, or exchange presents, but I miss the time we spend together. There is nothing like chatting, making fun of each other, yelling at one another, or telling stories about the trouble we used to get into when our parents weren't looking.

I went back to work after a much needed break. Unfortunately, things are right back to where I left them. Someone asked me how I was doing, being back and all. I said to them, "I've worked 7 full days, and I've skipped lunch 5 of those days." It is nice to know that I am needed, I suppose.

At the same time, I was diagnosed with being "mildly positive for rheumatoid arthritis". I say that in quotations because I am unsure as to how one can test mildly positive. I thought it was a black and white thing, you know, either you have it or you don't. Anyways, the doctors think that I am in the very early stages of rheumatoid arthritis and that with treatment, it may never develop into the full blown thing. One can only hope (and pop pills like no other).

So you are probably wondering what caused me to seek out a specialist in the first place. It all started with a swollen knuckle on my right hand and only my first finger. The finger that I mouse click with. The finger that I push the shutter button with. The hand that I do all my crafting and baking with. I didn't think anything of it at first. But the swelling, stiffness, and tenderness went from weeks to months. 

(early stage of rheumatoid showing swollen knuckles - source)

I have seen the symptoms of rheumatoid first hand. My my mother has RA. She was diagnosed in her mid-30's. It is a rare autoimmune disease, but is thought to have some hereditary traits. I know as well as any specialists that the symptoms show up in generalized areas (i.e., all knuckles in the hand) AND is symmetric, affecting the left and right side equally. It would be absurd that I have a localized case, right? That's what I thought. That's what the doctor thought. Guess we were both wrong. 

It is a double edge sword. I am glad that I had an answer almost immediately. I am thankful that I did not have to see a primary care physician who probably would have thought that I was nut job and just told me to take anti-inflammatory meds. I am grateful that I did not have to go through rounds and rounds of testing without receiving a diagnosis until it became the full blown thing. But knowing also sucks. There are moments where I will look down at my finger and be unable to create a completely tight fist. I fight back the tears and tell myself that I can beat this. I have overcome much worse. I WILL beat this.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Everything but the Cow: Fudgy Brownies

Head over to my baking blog, Delightful Cakery, for full details on this super simple and delicious treat. Not only is it gluten free and dairy free, but it is also packed with protein and fiber.

Dairy free and grain free brownies.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My sabbatical comes to an end


I can't believe that 8 weeks have gone by already. The last two weeks have been a little rough knowing that I have to go back to the "time to make the donuts" lifestyle. 

With the frigid temperatures outside, I spent the last week of my sabbatical holed up in our apartment, bundled up in my Snuggie watching random shows like Ink Master, Breaking Amish, and the occasional train wreck that is Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. That's right, I have a Snuggie and proudly use it, especially during College Football Saturdays. I didn't do a lot of the things that I set out to do during my vacation, but I'm OK with that. The important thing is that I was NOT at work. I was relaxed and enjoying life the best way I know how: eating, traveling, and lounging.

Only 6.5 years until the next sabbatical.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 5: London/Greenwich

Just photos and captions today.

Good to see you again, Ben. Ugh, dirty sensor, but I'm too lazy to edit and repost.
Guess where we are headed.
I found a GIANT penguin. (The aquarium is next to the London Eye.)
Yeup, we are going up there., the London Eye!
I was a little obsessed with the mechanics of how the wheel was turned.
Lunch while waiting in line: Tuna salad with sweet corn and cucumbers. Dairy Free!
Almost our turn.

I see you.
Well, hello there.
To Greenwich we go.
Do NOT ever use one of these. DISGUSTING.
Old Royal Naval College.
Fall in the United Kingdom.
Making our way up to the Royal Observatory.
Greenwich Mean Time Line.
From where I stand.
Afternoon "tea" at The Old Brewery.
Scones with jam and jersey cream. I only ordered one.
Flight of beer. I couldn't decide, so I tried them all.

J had to use some rock climbing skills to meet Sir Walter Raleigh.
Cutty Stark.
London across the river.
Greenwich Foot Tunnel.
I rode a dog in the Island Gardens.
Dinner at Bengal Village on Brick Lane. Chicken Tikki Masala with garlic naan. (Samsung TL225)
We covered approximately 2.84 miles in Greenwich.

Day 4: London
Day 3: London
Day 2: Cambridge/London
Day 1: London
Day 1: London - prefunc

*All photos taken by me with Nikon D7000 unless noted.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Creative plans

via Oh, Hello Friend

I have a master plan for these. Let's just see if I actually get around to using them before I catch that plane to India.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 4: London

Given the late night that we had last night, we allowed ourselves to sleep in and move slowly. But not so slow that we would miss the 'Changing the Guard' ceremony at Buckingham Palace. At least that was the plan. We got there just in time, except that it was the wrong day. The ceremony is only performed every other day at the palace. The guards alternate days between Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Whoops. No biggie, I'm sure we can watch it on YouTube. Plus, all was not lost, as we were pleasantly surprised by the Royal Horse Guards parading up (or is it down) The Mall.

Only a small subset of the mob scene at Buckingham Palace. That's not even the line to get into the place.
Royal Horse Guards

After all the hub bub, we made our way East on The Mile to check out Trafalgar Square. Jake said that I HAD to check out the lions. There also happened to be a Malaysian food festival going on at the same time, too. 

Nelson's Column at Tralfagar Square
Lunch at Garfunkel's - English Breakfast: [Pork and Leek] sausage, bacon, flat mushroom, grilled tomato, baked beans, chips, and fried egg, served with malted toast and butter.

I couldn't resist food on a stick, and it only cost £1! New year pudding (The lady told me it was coconut pudding, I think she had her translation wrong. Probably should have asked her in Chinese.)

The sunny, blue skies gave way to grey clouds that threatened rain in the afternoon. Perfect setting to hide out in Churchill War Rooms. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures. You will just have to go and visit. It is pretty neat. 

As evening fell, sprinkles turned into rain. Giant drops of rain. It was cold, dark, very wet night. Creepy would be one word to put it. And creepy was beyond perfect for a Jack the Ripper Tour. I think I was looking up places for afternoon tea, but somehow came across the Ripping Yarns tour which started steps away from our flat.

Jimmy the tour guide.
Dinner at Liberty Bounds. Located beneath our flat.
Abbot Ale meat pie with mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, and gravy. I washed it down with a pint of Abbot Ale. (Samsung TL225, sorry for the crappy shot.)

Day 3: London
Day 2: Cambridge/London
Day 1: London
Day 1: London - prefunc

*All photos taken by me with Nikon D7000 unless noted.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 3: London

Another early morning for us. We had a pretty full agenda set out for the day: St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and take in a theater show, Singin' in the Rain. We also got a good look at Big Ben and Parliament. In hindsight, I'm not sure why we thought it would be a good idea to hit up both religious buildings on the same day.

Both churches struck me a bit odd when I was told that photography was not allowed. I completely understand why, but at the same time, St. Peter's Basillica allows photos. I have pictures of almost every nook and cranny there. Anyways, the real highlight to St. Paul's is being able to climb the stairs to the different levels and look out on the city. It was breathe taking (maybe that came from all the stairs) and we couldn't have picked a better morning.

Even though we took our sweet time checking out the cathedral and the dark abbey, we had plenty of time to head back to the flat and rest/change before heading out for the show.

Breakfast at Paul - croissant and a soya late.
The famous dome of St. Paul's.
The front entrance to St. Paul's.
Random fact, I was laying on the ground with a wide angle lens to get this shot, and I still couldn't get all of it in frame.
Whispering Gallery - check. Stone Gallery - check. Golden Gallery - check!
View from the Stone Gallery.
View from the Golden Gallery.
Looking up from the Golden Gallery.
Lunch at Casa di Caffe near St. Paul's. Pukka-Pies: "pork based filling in a light puff pastry sleeve.
Local potato chips. They tasted like spicy ketchup.
Welcome to Westminster. This is actually 2 photos merged together in order to get both of us in the photo.
(merged using PSE 8.0)
Well hello there Big Ben.

Courtyard of Westminster Abbey.
The Rose Garden at Westminster Abbey.
Main entrance of Westminster Abbey. Those folks are actually waiting to be let in for evening service.
Dressed and ready for the show! Navy and coral self portrait. (Phone camera)
Singin' in the Rain at the Palace Theatre. (Samsung TL225)
Dinner at The Delhi Brasserie in Soho. Papadum, chutney, and mango lassi's.
Not pictured, Chicken Saag and vegetable rice; it was actually better as leftovers a few days later. (Samsung TL225)

Sorry, map for day 3. We didn't really cover much, about a mile walking from Westminster Abbey to the Victoria underground station. Nothing exciting enough to tell you about.

Day 2: Cambridge/London
Day 1: London
Day 1: London - prefunc

*All photos taken by me with Nikon D7000 unless noted.