Christmas is upon us and here in Norway we start the celebration on Christmas Eve. Actually most of us start on December 23rd which is the day the last details are supposed to be put in place. I can’t manage three days in a row now so my Lille Julaften (Little Christmas Eve) was spent resting, taking a shower and making the Norwegian version of sauerkraut.
Our sauerkraut is not fermented like the german version is. It’s delicious tho and is perfect with the pork based feast we traditionally eat on Christmas Eve. To make it you need:
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/2 cup white wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar (maybe a little more if it needs it)
2-3 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 l Stock (I use chicken)
Salt and pepper to taste
I cut the cabbage into wedges and then into strips in the food processor. Cut the apple into smallish cubes (it will dissolve when cooked). Put all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil, simmer for about two hours until it looks like this:
Heat before eating.
My mom and I have spent a couple of hours tonight with me in my new Christmas PJs. That is a new tradition that we started after I got worse again. She left me while I still had some energy left and has gone up to my uncle to spend the rest of the night there with some more of our family. She’s picking me up tomorrow to go to hers for christmas breakfast (traditionally it lasts all day here but I probably only have about two hours in me).
We’ve eaten our pork belly, pork meatballs and pork roast and had cloudberry cream for dessert. We’ve opened a few presents and toasted in non alcoholic beverages. I do miss having a little Aquavit to drink but that seems like an incredibly bad idea right now when just a little alcohol makes me very hung over and this particular drink has a lot.
I wish you all a very merry holiday and hope to come back with more in Romjula (day 1-5 of Christmas).
I’ve talked bit about habits before and how I use them to preserve energy. A few years ago I found a tumblr called Unfuck Your Habitat (UFyH) and that started changing how I approached housework. I used to be really messy, and would clean and tidy up in a panicked frenzy when someone was coming to visit. Naturally that meant I hated every second of it.
It’s a lot of work changing habits like these, it has taken me about a couple of years to get to the point I’m at now where I have a home that is pretty much always – if not super clean – at least tidy. It feels good to have gotten this far being as sick as I am.
So what sort of routines have I created for myself? Well the rules of UFyH are pretty simple; put it away not down, laundry has three steps – wash, dry, put it away dammit, everything has to have a place to live. Most importantly the system emphasises working within your limits. I’ve not documented the paring down of my excess stuff since most of that happened in the middle of the renovation of my living room and kitchen, but trust me I got rid of a lot of stuff I never used.
The routines I have now is as follows: Keep the kitchen and bathroom spotless by doing a little bit every time I’m in there. I wipe down counters and sinks and put stuff away pretty much on automatic now and I think that I might use about 10 minutes or so a day keeping things clean. I had to get a new dishwasher for my new kitchen and bought a narrow (45 cm) one because a full size one wouldn’t fit in the new layout. Best decision ever! It’s more than enough space for one person, and has a very handy short program that I often use when the machine isn’t full. Not filling things up to the brim makes it easier to empty again strangely enough 😏
About a decade ago I was an apprentice in a restaurant kitchen, and pretty much the first lesson I got was to keep your workstation clean. Don’t know why I stopped doing it ’cause it turns out it’s a lot easier to cook when I do it now. We separate out food leftovers in green bags Oslo (they turn it into bio fuel) so I keep the (smallish) bucket I use for it on the counter while I prepare food and have less steps to go to get rid of vegetable peel and eggshells etc. Packaging gets tossed in the sink first and sorted later. Most of it is plastic and gets recycled and some of that needs to be rinsed before going into its blue bag (blue and green bags gets separated out by a giant robot named Bagsy and goes to making new stuff. The leftover garbage gets burned and is used for heating homes, like mine). My bins are under the sink so its a short distance.
I’ve also gone back to preparing all the ingredients before I start cooking (mise en place) – it saves a lot of energy since you never have to hurry to finish chopping something up or finding something you need. And as always – there is no shame in using frozen and already prepared ingredients. If you have a food processer of some kind using it as often as you can does save your energy.
Laundry gets the same treatment. I thought I had to get a narrow top loaded machine for my tiny bathroom (a narrow frontloader will fit I found out later) and had no room for a tumble dryer. Hanging laundry can be really heavy work, but I tend to run smaller loads these days so I manage to get it done. When I can tho, I’m getting a combination washer/dryer so I can just skip the hanging up all together and go straight to putting it away dammit.
My mom comes in to change my sheets and mop the floors for me and do other heavy stuff, but I manage to stay on top of most of my chores even if it gets a bit dusty in here sometimes. I have though about getting a robot vacuum cleaner but my google skills has failed me a bit on finding one that will work well in a small apartment with a lot of walls and furniture in the way. If anyone has any suggestions I’ll be grateful.
I hope this didn’t come across as too splainy, I’ve re written this post a few times and still think it could be better. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask ( I might take a little time to answer tho, I haven’t slept that much lately and it feels like I might be able to now :))
It’s October and fall and soup season! For us spoonies (heh) this is the best season for cooking in my opinion. There is a lot of soups and stews that are easy and quick to make. Soups are also easy on a digestive system that sometimes has trouble keeping up. You can make a biggish portion that you can freeze and have for later, and also use as sauce in other food like casseroles.
Some of my favourite simple soups: Cauliflower, tomato, broccoli, leek and potato.
Which leads to my first recipe in what I hope is a little series:
600 g mushrooms (whatever you like, in the pictures there are brown button mushrooms and funnel chanterelles) sliced
1 red onion – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – sliced
A handful of thyme
1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable if you prefer)
5 dl cashew milk (I’m allergic to cows milk, but you can absolutely use ordinary milk or any other substitute you like)
Salt and pepper to taste
Flat leaf parsley and spring onion to decorate and add some crunch
Slice the mushrooms,and finely chop the red onion. If this is difficult for you can absolutely use a food processor for chopping or just chop the onions a bit bigger. Pull the leafs of the thyme stalks and slice the garlic cloves. Pour some olive oil in a hot skillet and start cooking the chopped vegetables. This takes a couple of minutes, until the onions are softened. Add a pinch of salt and pepper (all of this takes about five minutes).
Add the chicken stock and milk and bring up to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and go sit down and do something nice. If you are prone to forget you have something on the stove put an alarm on your phone for about half an hour to an hour.
Taste your soup. If it needs more salt and pepper add some, if not you can eat! I served mine with some flat leaf parsley and sliced spring onion for a bit of crunch. If you like thicker soup you can blitz about half of it in a blender or something, or you can add any thickening you like (cornflour, arrowroot*).
Serve with anything else you like, bread, croutons, sandwiches. Værsågod!
*Note that freezing the soup with thickening means it probably will separate after it’s reheated.
It’s the second #MillionsMissing day of Action – Take Two It’s Bigger and Better. I wish I could be present physically in front of the parliament building in Oslo today, but I’m not up to that and I have some other things happening today that I can’t move. Hopefully I can participate in the flesh next time, I should have a wheelchair by then.
Instead I’m wearing my red t-shirt at home, and at my GP’s office. There is a massive amount of things happening today – for me that is. They are changing my front door today (literally), so builders are running around everywhere making noise. I’m gonna do a little protest in front of them here at home.
If you are wondering what you can do to help please consider donating to Millions Missing Crowdrise campaign or The Open Medicine foundation. I would also like for you to sign the stopGet petitions if you can (One for brits, and one international). It’s to stop potentially harmful research treatment on children in the UK and is really important to me. It’s one thing to do this research on adults but since we already know it doesn’t work on us it’s diabolical to do the same thing to kids.
I expect I’ll be exhausted by the end of the day and anticipate a crash. I’m really proud of the M.E community and what has been achieved over the last few years. It feels like we have finally managed to gel into a coherent mass with common goals and I can’t thank the organisers of the different campaigns and organisations enough. I wish I could be more useful.
P.S. I can’t wait to have a new front door. The one I have seems to magnify any sound coming from the stairwell and is leaking air like you would not believe. A new fireproof door and new insulation around it should fix the worst of the sound problems. Not hearing the kids on the third floor running up and down the stairs screaming (not really, they are good kids but kids are heckin loud) would be great!
I haven’t been very active on my blog lately, my ME is currently kicking my cognitive metaphorical butt. I have about eight pieces of writing in the draft section but they all need pictures, fact checking and sourcing and so on, and I’m just not up for that at the moment.
What I have been doing lately though is reading a bit. I loved Chuck Wendig’s Invasive and recommend it to anyone (if insects isn’t too creepy for you). I hope they make a move of it, it was intense. I’ve been knitting socks while lying down and supporting my arms. I’ve been talking more to people on the internet, it’s scary but feels good. I’ve been overdoing it physically every time I feel a bit better because I’m so effing bored of resting and want to do something (not smart, I know).
I started watching Stranger Things. It takes a while because my memory is shit, and I have to go back every now and then and watch all over again. It’s also creepy in a way that gives me nightmares if I watch to late at night. I love it. I have a few movies to watch like Captain America: Civil War but I haven’t felt up to it lately (Cap’s my favourite Marvel hero).
I just started the new Chuck Wendig novel Invasive, and boy do I want to rush ahead and read it all tonight. I’ve skipped a bit in my reading list because the premise is so intriguing to me. It reminds me a little bit of Frank Schätzings The Swarmwhich is a favourite from a few years back.
Reading can be difficult for me, I really have to pace myself. I used to read a lot and read really fast. It’s been years since I’ve read much at all but looking at long term disability I have to find ways to entertain myself. Before I got sick I could finish a book like Invasive in a few hours tops, and then I’d read another book just to finish off the day so pacing my reading is just annoying as hell. But if I don’t, I end up three chapters in with no idea what’s going on. I also have problems reading physical books. I read on my iPad or online via the kindle app. It’s something about the screen being back-lit that makes it easier for me to see the words.
I’m reading SHRILL by Lindy West as well right now. The book is a collection of essays so reading a chapter at the time is great. I love Lindy West. The awful thing is that I became aware of her going through one of the occasional bouts of harassment someone as visibly feminist as her do. I wish I had found her anyway if you know what I mean. She is really funny, and has things to say about acceptance and positivity about the body you have, not the one you are supposed to want. This rings very true with me. I have never managed to look the way I’m “supposed” to no matter how much I’ve dieted or exercised. I wish lifting heavy stuff was more accepted when I was younger, I was hella strong before illness took it and could have done really well with that I think.
When I’m done with these two I have a little list of authors I want to check out this autumn. I follow Pat Rothfuss and John Scalzi on twitter cause they are fun, but I have never read their books so that is changing soon. N.K. Jemesin just won a Hugo, and I’ve only heard great things about her books so she is on the list. I bought Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and I’m starting that as soon as I finish Shrill. I also have a book about the Black Death that I’m gonna ease my way into (I like the plague. I’ve accepted that I’m a bit weird.). Feel free to make suggestions of what I can read next. Just remember that I confuse easily.
I’m finally through the worst of the red tape! I just got home from meeting my disability case worker and now I’m getting the money they owe me! After six months without. There is a lot of emotions bubbling, and I’m fucking exhausted but I won!
So yesterday morning started out as a pretty good day. Pretty low on the pain scale (about a 5), I’d slept well and getting out of bed was easy peasy. For me that is. The weather was nice, lowish humidity and the temperature juuust right. The sun was shining and it didn’t hurt my eyes. After about two weeks with only shitty days this was brilliant.
Here’s what I did with my great day:
Changed my sheets
Had to go back to bed and lie very still
My mom asked why I hadn’t just gone outside for a bit with my good day, and I felt like an idiot. After eight years you think I’d learn wouldn’t you? Oh well, at least my apartment is dust free and my bed is clean… Which is nice since I’m staying in it today.
Sometimes life is a tinsy tiny little bit difficult. I’ve just had another conversation with the disability people, and I’m wrapped up in bureaucratic red tape and it’s taking for fucking ever! It’s easy to get discouraged and down when nothing seems to go your way, and you are on your third night of not sleeping much. For me though, this is when I end up at my silliest and weirdest. These are a few of my coping mechanisms:
So very sad
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Reading something sad: I’ll have a really good snivelling cry (works with sad movies too). Trust me you’ll feel better after. Being a good ol’ geek means I’ll always find some fanfiction full of angst somewhere. Crying from fictional angst has nothing to do with my own life, is for some reason pretty helpful. YMMV obviously. In the end I’ll be redfaced and swollen, full of snot and somehow feeling better anyway.
Movies: I’ll watch my version of guilty pleasure* movies; monster movies. The stupider the better. Giant fish, mutated sharks and alligators, defrosted mammoths and genetically engineered bats. Another fun activity is watching them on silent and do a bad lip reading of the thing. *I don’t actually believe in guilty pleasures, but a lot of people call them that so…
Comic books: I’ll read a new comic book I haven’t read before. I’ve discovered a lot of new stuff since I started reading comic books again. So much new fun stuff. If you want some recommendations check out Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, the Hawkeye run by Matt Fraction and David Aja, Hellcat by Kate Leth and Brittany Williams. Lots of new writers and creators to be excited about.
Internet fun: I find silly and stupid gifs, videos and memes. Cats failing to jump and falling off stuff is always good. There are a lot of creative and silly people on the intertubes. That’s how I found Nimona by the way. It started out as a webcomic before Noelle got a book deal. Following funny people on twitter, and reading fun blogs is a good way to distract as well.
Making up stories: I have a detective story in the works that I’m writing just for fun. My mom and I came up with a premise of a mother daughter detective team who solve a murder at our local train station. It’s truly ridiculous and makes absolutely no sense. It will never be published, and probably never read by anyone else either. I love silly detective stories so much, and it is fun making up stories on my local neighbourhood.
British comedy series: The obscure ones are the best. My love for the Mighty Boosh for instance led me on a journey to find out what everyone in that series had done and to gems like Snuff Box and Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
My coping mechanisms might not be for you of course, people are individuals. I just think it’s good to take a time out and be silly for a while and I hope you can too. Those of us with chronic illnesses need some time to be ourselves, even if we only can manage it when we are alone or online. It’s bloody hard work being sick all the time, I think I’ll watch a monster fish in a swamp instead for a while.
Over the last year and a half I’ve had to adapt to a whole new way of living. A lot of it is spent resting and even though my couch is great, my bed is better. I’ve found a few things that make being in bed a lot a little better.
Hotel pillows: Giant soft pillows that makes sitting up and lying down in bed comfortable. I have two of them stacked up under my normal pillow and they make things much easier.
A tray for coffee cups, water glasses, phones and whatnot. I have several, but the plastic trays from IKEA functions beautifully. Get one with a bit of edge in case of spilling things.
A bed table/laptop table. I use mine all the time, but I’ll probably get a new one that I can tilt up for even more comfort.
Mason jar drinking glass with lid. I have spilled a lot of water on myself while in bed. The drinking glasses with a lid is brilliant. They are a bit heavy, but being glass they keep me water cool much longer than a plastic glass would. It’s also easier to drink enough when drinking from a straw for some reason.
Hotel pillow frpm kid.no
Tray from IKEA
Glass from concretinterior.no
Other things that keeps my life a little better:
My Sodastream machine. It’s sometimes difficult to drink enough. Carbonated water is easier to swallow for some reason. I also gave my mom one a few years ago for Christmas, and it still functions beautifully even though that was the cheapest version.
Cleaning as I go. My kitchen is spotless. Always. I keep it that way because I’ve discovered that it takes a lot less time and effort to clean as I go than say once a day. I probably use about a minute every time I’m in there to make sure everything is in order. I have a small kitchen and it is just me here so this might not be something everyone can do.
Getting groceries delivered. This is a new discovery, but it’s so great. I think I can manage to get deliveries about once a month if I plan it well enough.