Articles

Body Talk

Ah, the human body. It’s only as high maintenance as we make it, I guess, but just doing whatever without taking the effects on the body under advisement can lead to…well, a much shorter, more difficult life in general. Too bad that realization doesn’t really make the constant attention to maintenance any less annoying.

With that in mind, a few things from the past week:

– The bathroom scale is now registering high enough when I step on that I was forced to face the fact that my experiment with adding more bread and cookies back into my diet is a complete failure. I’ve started imposing restrictions again and am already seeing downward movement. Call it bloat or “water weight” or whatever you’d like, the fact is, my body does not process breads and flour-based foods well. Moderation is a *must* – no getting around that. I need to plan better for next week so I have alternatives ready, and can easily limit both calories and breads/pastas/flour-based treats.

– Still on the subject of food, I tried not-snacking in the afternoons to limit calories, but the brain drop is severe enough to stifle productivity, and it wasn’t helping with the weight issue anyways. Tried nuts again, still not as helpful as I wanted. Then a co-worker shared a single thin mint (girl scout cookie, for those poor unfortunate souls who don’t know), and the chocolate/slight bit of sugar definitely seemed to help. Tried it again the next day (with a single dark chocolate cashew-butter cup), and same thing. In the meantime, the scale is still moving down (inching, but not going up, which is the important part). The nice thing about this is, I don’t like chocolate well enough to sit and eat a whole candy bar or pack of chocolate (it’s not like…say, Pringles or gummy worms, both of which I will consume the entire can or bag of before I even consider stopping). I really don’t like milk chocolate, but I like dark in small doses, and just a very small piece is plenty for one day. So I got some Bark Thins in this week’s grocery order, and I’m going to try one in the late afternoons for the next week. If it works the way things have been working, that’s a total win for me.

– I dyed my hair this week, but unlike previous times, I did the roots first, and then the rest of my hair for less time. Because I’m growing my hair out, I’m worried that dyeing my whole head like normal will result in the lower part becoming much darker than the roots, because they come in white, and henna is permanent (so it doesn’t wear out, and I’m not chopping the length off anymore). It went okay, though I still ended up with lighter roots than I was hoping for. I’ll have to experiment a little more, I guess. One person who also uses henna just does her whole head all the time, and doesn’t have a problem with the roots blending (or not). So maybe I’m making it more complicated than it needs to be? We’ll see. It will be about 6 weeks before my roots start bugging me again. We’ll see how it looks when this dye job has grown out that far, and make a decision then.

– When I dye my hair, it’s a three-hour project (because that’s just how long it takes for natural pigments). I have to take my earrings out first, which is another hour or more project after just choosing a theme and putting all my jewelry back in. Saturday nights are nail nights, so that’s another three-hours (remove polish, cutting, filing/shaping, buffing, polishing). And Friday nights are foot-care night, which is an hour for filing, soaking, and moisturizing. Plus random eyedrops & hand lotion – because…dry is bad.

So all in all, I spent a full workday or more just on physical maintenance this weekend. I don’t do that every weekend, of course, but…it just struck me as a lot of time spent just…maintaining. Obviously I choose to do that, and none of it is strictly necessary, though all of it makes my life easier in various ways. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing or it just…is.

I don’t think I want to make any different decisions at this point, but…it is a lot of time spent.


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks | Audible

The Grill Pan

I have exactly one cast iron pan.

It’s a grill pan – the kind with the little ridges in the bottom to make those cool “I grilled this but not really” marks in your hamburgers and steaks (and also to hold whatever you’re cooking up and out of the grease while it drips off, but that’s boring, since there’s no fire underneath to flare up at every drop of fat that sizzles into it). I bought it when we upgraded our range this past spring to one with an induction cooktop, which if you’re not familiar with, uses a magnetic field to excite and heat up the metal rather than heating coils (so the stovetop doesn’t actually transfer heat to the pan, it just excites the metal in the pan until the pan itself gets hot). I wanted to try something in cast iron on it, and since our patio is far too warm to use for actually grilling in the summer (never mind all the yellowjackets looking for a handout), a grill pan seemed like a good choice.

I’m not normally one to want to fuss with maintenance on anything, including pots/pans and dishes. I make very few exceptions – pretty much everything in my kitchen needs to be dishwasher safe, or it doesn’t stay long. The grill pan is one of those exceptions though, and I have a love/hate relationship with the extra care it requires.

My stainless steel all just goes in the dishwasher and gets nested back into the cupboard until I need it again. Easy peasy, no effort on my part.

The grill pan though…I have to scrub the larger bits loose with a scraper, then use a finer scrub brush to loosen the rest of the gunk, and then wipe it out with a dish cloth and rinse several times before it’s clean (yes, I know if I cleaned it shortly after using, it would probably be easier, but I’m not that person and never will be, so it’s not going to happen). Then, after it’s clean, per a web site on “easy cast iron care” I read, I rub a tiny bit of oil all over the inside, heat it back up for 10-15 minutes, and then leave it to cool overnight to keep the seasoning strong. It’s either that,or re-season it long and slow in the oven every so often, and I can guarantee you I will never remember to do that. And if I did by some chance, I’d never actually make the time. I know this about myself.

Needless to say, on nights I reach for that pan, I sometimes hesitate a few seconds, wondering if I should just use a stainless steel one instead so I don’t have to worry about the care ritual later that night. And I always find myself grudgingly placing that pan on the stove, knowing I’m going to be annoyed by having to care for it later, but still inexplicably drawn to…well, something about it.

It’s not even the cooking, really – sometimes I can finish what I start in it on the stove, but with thicker or still-somewhat-frozen steaks, I have to finish them in the oven (the grill pan is small enough to do that, but it is heavy, and then I have to move things around, etc). The grill marks and searing are nice, but that’s hardly worth the effort. And yet…I still reach for that pan several nights a week, even for things like grilled cheese that is going to seep into those grooves and make the cleaning process even longer.

I think a lot of it is the aesthetics. I like how it looks, and I like watching food cook in it. Basically the same reason I use actual bone china teacups for my late night cuppa, even though they also require washing by hand. Also, it’s the only pan that requires that kind of care. If I were using several cast iron pans for different things and had to scrub and season all of them every night, that would probably make me rethink my options. Though this one in particular is harder to clean by default solely due to all those ridges. A flat pan would take far less time to clean and care for.

And it would also be far less interesting.

I often find myself standing at the sink, scraping gunk out of the pan ridges, and trying to decide whether I’m enjoying the meditative task, or just enduring it for the joy of actually using the pan. I still haven’t decided, honestly. Maybe it’s a little of both.

I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out.

The Grill Pan

Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks | Audible

Maintenance: Annoying but Necessary

For those who might be curious, yes, I got my bee tattoo last week. Two, actually, and I’m happy with how they turned out. The lines are sharp and clean, and I stepped out of both my comfort zone and the strict interpretation I was holding myself to on that particular arm, which actually gave me ideas and a plan for the rest of that sleeve. So, for all the worrying, it turned out very well.

The rest of the week sort of took a dive downward after that. I had to call my dentist because I had a second tooth in as many weeks break. So I have to postpone the crown prep I had scheduled for the other tooth, so I can get this one filled (and it probably needs a crown too). It’s one of two teeth that I should have crowned years ago, but it got lost in the shuffle of other root canals and crowns along the way while I was trying to get my teeth to a healthier place. Maintenance postponed = two broken teeth and crowns needed.

Then Halloween was cold and miserable for decorating, but we got it done and even had a good turnout of trick-or-treaters. Afterwards, the heel of my right foot started hurting like crazy. The reason? Dry feet. If I slack off on the foot maintenance (filing/soaking once a week, shea butter and socks for an hour before bed every night), the heel of my right foot gets so dry it develops deep, painful cracks in the bottom. I’ve totally been slacking off on both weekly and daily foot care. Maintenance ignored = painful walking for several days.

I was going through my earrings Friday night, swapping out my Halloween theme for something that would match (sort of) the piercing jewelry I’m stuck with for another 4 weeks or so, and one of the pair I wanted is ruined. I have a bad habit of swapping out jewelry and then instead of cleaning the pieces I just took out and putting them away right then, I leave them sitting on the counter to clean “later”. Or worse yet, I’ll put them in a small bowl of water to soak, and then not get back to them until they’ve soaked the finish right off. Needless to say, I had to toss that pair out, and use a pair that don’t match as well. Worse, I have a lot of earrings that I need to toss due to not taking proper care in cleaning and storing them. Maintenance ignored = money and jewelry I really liked both down the drain, so to speak.

This past weekend, the hubby and I finally tried to fix a clog in the plumbing. The bathroom sink on the main floor was draining slow for quite awhile, and then when I finally got it unclogged, the bathroom sink just below it in the basement started overflowing when we used the sink upstairs. We took both traps off the sinks to try to get a snake into the right drain, with zero luck. We did break the pipe for the upper sink in the process though. Finally called a plumber after failing and making the problem worse, and they came out yesterday to clear out the drain and replace some old metal piping (including the ones we broke). Maintenance ignored = a few hundred bucks in professional maintenance, a vacation day and way longer without a working bathroom sink than necessary.

Maintenance is expensive initially, mostly in terms of time and attention. I hate taking time out of everything else I want to do in order to just do basic maintenance on things or myself. But it really is more expensive not to do it in the long run, which is something I really need to remind myself of more often. Or at least every time I’m feeling too lazy to lotion my feet, clean my jewelry or run a bacterial enzyme cleaner down the drains.

What have you been too lazy too keep up with lately? And what’s it going to cost you in the long run? Inquiring minds…


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks