My eye has been twitching for fourteen days.

Some self defense classes say to go for the eyes, because once something happens to your eye it’s really hard to focus (literally and figuratively) on anything outside your eyes.

It’s funny how quickly a tiny muscle wiggle pulls my focus from everything else. I’m slow to anger usually, but I found the quick intense pointless rage that bubbles up with you stub your toe on the coffee table to bubble up sometimes when my eye twitch pulls me out of the moment I’m in.

I went to an optometrist because I am the opposite of scared of the doctor (meaning I go all of the time for everything). She said eat more potassium and magnesium (I have 5-6 bananas a week and a magnesium supplement every night), sleep more (I sleep 8 hours and 24 minutes a night on average according to FitBit), and to cut down the caffeine (I usually drink 1-3 small cups a day) and the stress. Well shit.

I’m an anxious gal, and this country and time don’t help. In The Bell Jar Platt talks about her life being her sitting in a crook of a fig tree, and each fig looks tempting, but she can’t decide which one to reach for and while she’s deliberating every fig wastes away and she’s chosen nothing. That’s been resonating in me for a while as I wait to pick a fig in my life. This week a financial podcast I listen to was talking about the marshmallow test that expanded the test to remind us no one wants to wait a year for three marshmallows – your current one will get stale and there’s too many other variables to ever make that a good bargain. So maybe I need to stop staring at figs and marshmallows and just eat ‘Em, eh?

Jordan Travel Itinerary

Jordan Itinerary

Here’s what we did day by day:

Day 1
Flight from Paris to Amman. Inside customs we used an ATM to get cash (dinars) and had no issues. Right outside customs in the airport we each bought a SIM card for our phones. There were two different mobile companies so we got one of each. There wasn’t too much difference in the price/service, and we each had pockets where one of us had reception and the other didn’t. Our taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was dark and we were unnecessarily nervous about our first time in the Middle East. Driving past an IKEA was somehow reassuring; it reminded me that the city was full of average people with average bookcases.
Jordanian food
Day 2
Eat all the food. Hummus, fuul, falafel, pita, cucumbers, tomatoes, haloumi, zaatar and baklava for days. Toured the Citadel and learned about all the cultures who’d used that site from 40,000 BC until the present. The Roman Temple of Hercules, Byzantine Basilica and Amayad Mosque were all amazing. We then walked to the amphitheater and through winding neighborhoods.
Day 3 and 4
We rent a car! We went for the smaller company, Monte Carlo, and they were very friendly, affordable and safe feeling. Justin drives us south to Madaba to visit some more religious sites. We see the oldest known map of the holy land; a mosaic tiled floor. Driving south we came upon a massive canyon we weren’t expecting. In my head I just imagined sandy deserts, but Jordan is full of sheep at pasture, rocky canyons and cliffs, and even forests in the north. We drive the Desert Highway south to Dana and stay at a tiny little hotel that feels very Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros. We spent the next full day exploring the surrounding nature reserve.
Day 5 and 6
Drive farther south and stop at Shobak castle for a bit of climbing around before we end up in Petra where we spend all the following day as well. It’s amazing. Stay with a local Bedouin from AirBnB.
Day 7 and 8
We drive to Wadi Rum. It’s a beautiful expansive desert we’d planned on exploring for a few nights. We’ve already been roughing it for a week and staying with hosts, and we decide somewhat sheepishly that we’d prefer a private room with a western shower and not having to talk to anyone for a night or two. Drive south to Aqaba and get our first not-twin bed, some alcohol and watch the sun set over the Red Sea, Egypt and Israel. We spend the next day exploring Aqaba, the hotel pool and buying spices as souvenirs.
Day 9 and 10
Drive north on the Dead Sea Highway, stopping at Lot’s Cave, the museum of the Lowest Place in the World and Mount Nebo. Drive past sheep, goats, donkeys, camel and people living in goat hair tents.  Spend two nights in Madaba, driving do the Dead Sea on the full day to float and soak up the salty goodness. Went to a formal restaurant in Madaba for our one fancy meal.
Day 11
Drive to Jerash to discover the gladiator show is canceled indefinitely. We’re pretty worn out at this point so have a sit down lunch and then head to a mall in Amman for some slow indoor wanderings. We spend an entire hour exploring a grocery store. As we went through customs at the airport leaving, one man said “you’re from America? Please tell everyone there how beautiful Jordan is and to visit soon!” oozing pride and eagerness to share his country. It is beautiful!

An American in Jordan: What to Expect

jordan travel tips

We had an amazing time in Jordan, but we didn’t always know what to expect. Here’s a recap on some logistical things that would have been nice to know going in.

Beds – Most places, even nicer hotels, gave us rooms with two single beds. We had to call around until we finally found a two person bed a week in, as we were sick of sleeping alone on vacation.

Toilets – almost every single one featured a spray hose adaption of some kind. We googled it to make sure they were for … clean up, and that is how most people used them. However there still was paper in most places we went. Many public restrooms had attendants, some of whom would sell you paper/soap/etc for cents, or just stand there and hand them out for tips. Some of these attendants were clearly employees (like at nice restaurants), but others were just people who adopted public toilets and kept them clean, knowing they’d get tipped out eventually. Like much of the world, the plumbing isn’t meant for anything but water and human waste – a little bin is waiting for any toilet paper you use.

Clothing – Jordan is primarily Muslim, but there are active groups of Christians and Jews as well. The Bedouin culture values hospitality strongly; everyone we met wanted to make sure we were comfortable and I never felt judged or offending. I brought lightweight long baggy pants, a shin-length skirt, covering shirts and a big scarf. You’ll see people in all levels of dress. In really touristy areas or large cities I fit in just fine with my blond hair uncovered and a t-shirt on. We spent a lot of time in mosques, temples, synagogues and churches. I was there to appreciate Jordanian culture, not push mine on other people, so felt best dressed more modestly than I would at home.

Alcohol – many Jordanians abstain, but if you search you can find local beers, wines and spirits! We liked the anise flavored Arak liquor and were impressed with Petra Beer’s crazy high 13% abv. We found few bars, but some nicer restaurants served alcohol and we also bought smaller bottles and enjoyed them inside our hotel rooms after long days.

Water/Food Safety – we generally only drank bottled water, buying it in huge jugs quite cheaply. We didn’t get too hung up on brushing out teeth with the right water or even on eating only cooked fruit and veg; we had no stomach issues. It is a desert country, so we tried our best to take fewer/faster showers and conserve water as much as possible.

Smoking – at our first hotel the clerk was smoking at the check in desk. I’d read to expect hookahs smoked, but seeing people smoke cigarettes inside is jarring to me as it’s so rare at home!

Driving – renting a car was a great way to get around. People drive differently than in America, and I’d be too timid to push my way through the roundabouts. It helped keep our plans flexible and Justin likes driving fortunately.

Eating – using specific hands wasn’t an issue, but we did get weird looks for wanting coffee before our meal. All the tea and coffee we had came with loads of sugar. The baklava store was my favorite place; you paid by weight for pounds of sweets. We also experimented with a sweet cheese dessert and some new-to-us chip flavors. I didn’t have any trouble finding vegetarian options – the traditional diet saved meat for special occasions so there were lots of bean/bread/veg heavy foods for me to enjoy. Also falafel was clearly the impetus for the entire trip.

If you’re debating visiting Jordan, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Jameel is one of the few Arabic words I retained because everything we saw was “beautiful.”


Adult Tonsillectomy Survival List

tonsil talkTonsillectomies can help with sleep issues, chronic strep throat, tonsillitis and tonsil stones. I got mine out in my late 20s to combat most of those (if you’ve never heard of tonsil stones, they’re even grosser than they sound).

The older you get, the harsher the recovery is from a tonsillectomy. The doctor literally cuts holes in your throat. This makes basic things like breathing and drinking painful, and eating and yawning basically impossible. My ENT said to expect two weeks of bedrest minimum.

I looked at it as cramming all my future sore throats in to two awful weeks. Tonsillectomies make most people think of 8 year olds with ice cream and cartoons. The more I researched it the more scared I became; it’s a rougher recovery for adults and dairy actually coats your throat and makes it even harder to heal!

I prepared as best I could and while it was pretty awful, but I made it through without going back to the ER. Here is my shopping list:


  • Water – set a goal, like 16 oz an hour. Keep multiple bottles and pitchers all around you to stay motivated and track your intake
  • More water – GatorAde, VitaminWater, Pedialite all keep it interesting and give you some needed electrolytes
  • Non-citrus juices (citrus stings!)
    • Aloe  – soothing
    • Prune – “moving”
    • Peach – yummy
  • NonDairy Super Drinks – avoid all dairy as it coats your throat awfully. These are good before you take meds to help line your stomach:
    • Ensure Clear
    • Naked Juice Chocolate Banana Protein – lots of calories! Yay!
    • Chocolate Almond Milk – single serve boxes were easy to handle, and felt filling because of protein
  • Veggie Broth – low sodium, as salt is icky on open wounds. Broths are a nice switch from sweet drinks
  • Ginger ale – bubbles were ok after a few days for me
  • Ice chips – I didn’t like cold, but some other bloggers loved sucking on ice chips all day
  • Teas – I didn’t like hot tea, but lukewarm Yogi Tea Throat felt good around day 8 or 9


  • Applesauce
  • Popsicles and frozen treats (non citrus, non dairy) – Sqwincher and organic mango pops were my go-tos, along with chocolate coconut ice “cream”
  • Canned Peaches/Pears/cranberries/beets – starting after day 4 or so
  • Soft scrambled eggs – I managed to get one egg down on day 3
  • Pumpkin “pudding” – a can of pumpkin, a can of coconut milk, mixed together was full of real food nutrition and variety
  • Avocado – super soft and a good source of fat

Nonfood Shopping

  • Personal Humidifier – keep it blowing at your neck
  • Sugar Spoons – the tiny kind used for coffee stirring – sometimes it’s hard to open your mouth at all so a wee spoon makes it easier to get food in!
  • Ice Pack – I ordered a long skinny one from amazon I could wrap around my neck
  • Travel Pillow – my neck was so sensitive that sleeping with it at any angle was painful, I slept basically sitting up so the travel pillow held my head upright for “sleeping”
  • Netflix account – so much time in bed, and the meds made focusing hard. I read some and wrote some, but mainly I rewatched tv shows otherwise I got confused and frustrated with anything new
  • New pjs/etc. – spending a lot of time in comfy clothes, it’s a nice to feel fresh and cozy in new clothes
  • Biotene Mouth Wash – like the tiny spoons, getting a toothbrush in your mouth is hard, and also your breath will smell like rotting scabs. Gross. Some mouthwash has alcohol that stings so Biotin is great because it’s non stingy and helps with dry mouth.
  • Notebook – you’ll probably get multiple prescriptions that can get taken at different intervals. And you’ll get confused because of the pain and the strong medications. I logged every time I took something to not overdose or wait too long before I took my next dose. Also you have nothing else to do so might as well keep yourself busy.
  • White board and dry erase marker – I probably could’ve started talking on day two or three. I wrote notes for 8 days to be extra careful.
  • Bell – goes with the white board; if you need something you don’t want to yell for help!


  • Eardrops – I didn’t end up using these but read of people suffering massive ear pain post-surgery
  • Cepacol Lozenges – the “hydra” kind felt very wetting and soothing, and the honey ones were comforting. Actually sucking on cough drops was ouchy, but letting it dissolve on my tongue worked.
  • Tylenol Cold Sore Throat liquid – it’s hard to find adult strength throat meds that are liquid based and not full of other meds that conflict with prescriptions. This works.
  • Emetrol Nausea and Upset Stomach – like ear drops I didn’t actually use this that much, but you’re eating so little and having such harsh meds an upset stomach is likely, and you don’t want to take pills so stocking some liquid stomach meds is smart.

Most Essential

Someone to check on you, make sure you’re following your med sched, mush your avocado, wash your dishes and pat your head.

I hope this helps if you’re about to go under the knife! It’s awful, but in the end I’m happy I did it.

All the links are affiliate links to amazon – it doesn’t affect your price but I get a tiny percentage to help pay for web hosting fees, etc. Thanks!

Whole30 Review

We made it! If you’re on the fence, I definitely recommend the program.


  • Take photos and measurements! We weren’t sure if we’d changed physically, but comparing photos in the same location in the same clothes we both look much less puffed up. We lost over an inch in our guts, natural waists and hips.
  • Willpower. This is less tangible, but we’re way more comfortable passing up mini snickers or junky beer than we were before.
  • Shopping/kitchen habits. We don’t let produce go bad anymore even though we buy a lot more veg and fruit. I’m also reading all the labels and throwing back anything with unpronounceable ingredients or unnecessary soy/corn products.
  • Mental Health. I think my anxiety has simmered down a wee bit. Frustrating circumstances don’t make me jump to break downs quite so fast.


  • The book says there’s no such thing as a perfect Whole30. Try as we might there were some things that had confusing ingredients lists – a bag of nuts that listed cashews, almonds and sea salt as ingredients in large font, and then in teeny font somewhere else said ingredients: almonds, peanut oil, cashews, sea salt made me soooo mad that I’d accidently broken the rules.
  • Meals. Whole30 stresses no snacks. Have five meals if you need to, but don’t just snack. I was terrible at this rule. I definitely like to have a piece of fruit when I wake up, get dressed and then make breakfast. Once I’m at work I have coffee, and an hour in my second cup of coffee usually gets some prunes and almonds with it. I supposed I could call each of these times I eat a tiny meal, but I’d end up with nine meals some days.
  • Miracles. I’d read so many amazing transformation stories I was a bit disappointed when my skin didn’t clear up, my hip pain remained and my IBS symptoms stagnated. We were already closer to Whole30 than to the S.A.D. when we started, and I’ve outlined a couple little ways I didn’t totally follow the plan, so I’m not shocked it wasn’t a cure-all, but still a little disappointed.

Next Steps

We are taking baby steps. One day I had milk in a latte. Justin had cheese. We’ve tried oats, popcorn, rice and scotch without major issues. I’m trying to do 80/20; mainly stick to Whole30 but allow for 20% of life to be coloring outside the lines.

Whole30 Week 3


Highlights of the last week were salmon cakes in the waffle maker, salads for breakfast, and a dinner party. We don’t even host dinner parties when we can eat and drink everything. It was a bit intimidating, but between the two people who came over we needed to keep it dairy-free, gluten-free, sober and low salt. Pretty perfect pairing with Whole30 actually.

Our menu:
Babaganoush, olive tapenade and veggies (all homemade!)
Salmon simply baked with rosemary and lemon
Roasted Kale and Brussel Sprouts
Poached Pears from It Starts With Food

We of course served La Croixs, and they brought a great smokey tea that was a nice “cocktail” to have pre-dinner. It was all delicious and didn’t feel too much like a crazy diet plan.

I also started an Instagram to keep me motivated. It’s fun to see what other people are making, and I really do think it helps me make full meals so I have better photos to take.

20 Books read in 2015

My commute involves 25 minutes each way on the light rail. I oscillate between podcasts, work emails, Duo Lingo language learning, longreads and books. I read books I seek out, books leant to me, and many I pluck out of a Little Free Library. I love how each title brings back memories of the week(s) I read it – plane rides, humidity, strep throat or other ups and downs of life. I tried to rank them by order I enjoyed them, but it was a bit of apples to oranges. Here’s the books I remember (and photo links to my top five recs if you want to buy them on amazon thru affiliate links).

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell People have been recommending David Mitchell to me for years. I get it now. I love period pieces. I love the circular tracks of each life. I love the chapters ending mid-sentence. Magical realism at it’s best.

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons I’ve always loved this movie, and the book was an equally fun romp. Total fluff, but written in the period to make fun of other fluff, so it’s even sillier. Definitely laugh out loud literally with this one.

The Wind Up Bird Chronicles – Haruki Murakami Like Mitchell, Murakami has been on my to-read list as well. More magical realism, amazing character journeys, full fascinating world that made me research the histories of Japan before and after WWII more than I knew before. It was long and got a bit turned about for me, but still a top five.

The Dud Avocado – Elaine Dundy A memoirish tale of a young American in Paris in the 50s, told more realistically than I expected. Charming, silly, a bit dark and I read it while in Paris which made me fall for it even more.

My Life in France – Julia Child How could this not be great? Appreciate her honesty talking about her discomfort being a housewife and all the work and drama that went in to cookbookery.

You Can’t Win – Jack Black Not that Jack Back. A depression era hobo tells the tales of riding the rails and his time in the pokey. Fascinating.

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klosterman This was a read-out-loud-to-your-friends kind of book. He nerds out pretty hard on some pop culture I don’t know about. I skimmed some of the shorts but enjoyed it as a whole.

Brain on Fire – Susannah Cahalan This was a devour-in-an-afternoon kind of read. First person account of losing your mind drew me in deeply, but left me feeling like I didn’t gain much.

The Nick Adams Stories – Ernest Hemmingway Hemmingway – what more can I say? Not his best collection, and not meant to be published in a collection so it doesn’t always flow well, but Hemmingway’s worst writing would be better than the best of so many other authors.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green Also a super quick read. Teen cancer romance – totally cried and really believed the characters. Also they obsess over a book that stops mid-sentence, circling me back to Cloud Atlas.

Changing My Mind – Zadie Smith I remember liking this when I read it last January, but I can’t remember a single point from it. I know it was a series of essays but obviously it didn’t resonate with me if it’s all gone.

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion Not super relatable for a young unmarried gal, but I think it helped me empathize with my grandma more. Didion is great at painting the full picture of her pain and experience.

Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen and the Inimitable Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse I mainly love Jeeves & Wooster as I can picture Stephen Frye and Hugh Laurie as the duo and that makes everything funnier. Wodehouse is a linguistic genius and I want to add some of his similes in to my daily speech.

Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackery I had this on my kindle and kept switching to other books. I’d rather just watch the movie, embarrassingly. I did finish it finally though.

The Turn of the Screw and Daisy Miller – James Henry I did find Turn of the Screw to be suspenseful! Daisy Miller I’d read years ago and forgotten, and then after rereading it immediately forgot most of it again.

Dead Man’s Folly – Agatha Christie The first Christie I’d ever read! A very late Poirot, so probably not the best place to start. A who-done-it can be fun and I couldn’t figure this one out until the reveal which didn’t wow me.

Snobs – Julian Fellowes Shallow look in to shallow lives. I don’t know much about old rich in Britain, and I think I’d prefer more Wooster to this.

The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner I actually missed my train stop because I was so engrossed in this book. Had to walk extra far home. But I still couldn’t figure it out and found it terribly frustrating.

Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates – Tom Robbins Second Robbins attempt and I just don’t sink with him. So many silly fanciful storylines and quips that I should like, but I just end up disgusted by the characters (and not in a Confederacy of Dunces sort of way). Ick.

Whole30 Week 2

We’ve gotten in to the groove. I rarely have to ask “can I have…?” when I’m at the grocery store or standing in my kitchen. I know what to eat and have started cooking more and more. Here’s this week’s overview, onomatopoeia style:

Oops. The only (known) slip ups was some canola oil (which is technically allowed, but just barely and we were trying to cut it out) in some canned herring and brewing tea that had stevia leaf in it. The book actually says something about sucking on the leaves being ok, but it’s sort of a facetious point about eating real food and not processed crap. We dumped the tea.

Drat. I feel like everyone is inviting me to free food events. There’s been galas and restaurant openings and samplings oozing out of the woodwork. I’m currently just declining them all. Part of me wants to go and practice not automatically eating whatever is free, but if the focus is on eating I’d feel awkward watching friends/coworkers eat.

Uff. Still having some gut issues. I’ve tried to up the cooked produce over raw produce, which I’ve read is easier to digest. I just like the crunch of raw and not having to do any prep. I’ve also tried to swap in more veggies in the morning for fruit. I had Brussel sprouts for breakfast yesterday! Who am I?

Ca-ching. So far my monthly spending is down. Eatting out really adds up quickly. That plus buying alcohol and buying processed foods at the grocery store (I’m talking pre-made vegan sandwiches at my co-op grocery) is a large chunk of my spending.

Brrrr. It’s windchill of -33 Fahrenheit here. That kinda puts a damper on everything. We’ve been drinking tea and cuddling under blankets and not doing much beyond washing dishes.

Week 2 was way easy compared to week 1. I’m hoping Week 3 flies by. The point isn’t to dwell on what you’re missing but live in what you’re able to enjoy, but I’m pretty excited for a mocha in a few weeks. I have been thinking about limiting myself to only “real” ingredients for my guilty pleasures – no Milky Ways, just real, good, chocolate. I got this, right?

Whole30 Week 1

After hearing about Whole30 all over (coworkers, blogs, friends, physicians) I’d been meaning to try it. When you starting researching the plan, it seems pretty impossible. There’s many resources explaining all the rules, but in brief; no dairy, grains, legumes, sugars… really nothing processed at all. We found soy or sugar or corn products snuck in to most of our pantry staples. As a vegetarian who sometimes eats fish, this limits me to vegetables, fruit, eggs and … some fish. Not much. Last winter we thought “let’s wait for summer with more fresh produce available and farmer’s markets!” but come summer the siren call of gin and tonics and barbeques meant there was never the right time. January seemed as good a time as any. One week flew by.

What’s worked:
Egg bakes – good way to use up left over vegs
Curries – can of coconut milk and more veg is super easy!
Breakfast bowl – chopped fruit, nuts, coconut flakes, chia seeds and almond milk in a bowl, sort of like cereal but fills you up more and feels healthier

What’s hard:
Planning – so much shopping, chopping, prepping, cleaning
Empty calories – I’m not filling up rice or pasta so I get hungry
Habits – what do you do on a Friday night after 9 without alcohol? How do I not get a muffin at a café or popcorn with a movie?
Aches – head and body are feeling sluggish

There’s many reasons to do the program, and most of them appeal to me. The breaking of habits is a pretty big one, and actually reading the ingredients list of everything you consume is pretty mindblowing. Of course there are some amazing before-and-after photos that I wouldn’t mind happening to me too. And then there’s my continual GI issues, so if I can find something to ease any of my digestive issues that’d be pretty great too.

Only three more weeks.


People are often fascinated or horrified when they hear I use Couchsurfing. This photo is me with my host in New Caledonia experiencing some local culture I would have never found without an insider.

Isn’t it dangerous? No? Yes? A small creep-run motel feels less safe than staying at a well-vetted friendly person’s home. Obviously something awful could happen, but that could happen to you on a train or in a hotel as well. I only stay with people who have many positive reviews and numerous photos and have only had positive experiences.

Do you have to hang out with the person? There’s different opinions on this. I look at Couchsurfing as an active exchange program. If you just want a place to crash you should use AirBnB. If you want to connect with a local you use Couchsurfing. I only ever use Couchsurfing when I’m traveling solo – I want someone to go out to dinner with, and if I’m already with someone it feels third wheel-ish to include them.

Should you “repay” your host? There’s no written rule on this, however the website recommends cooking them dinner, cleaning up or something else with minimal cost. When I’m traveling I don’t want to do any of that. And I don’t have extra space in bag to carry host gifts. I usually offer to take my host out to their favorite restaurant. If it’s my last day in a specific country and I have a bit of local currency I use that as an excuse to pass them some cash. Honestly some hosts don’t want or expect any repayment; they like hosting to get a taste of culture without traveling, or to practice their foreign language skills.

Any horror stories? Nothing awful. At the end of a two month long travel stint I was Couchsurfing at a large house. They had three big couches in the front room, but many roommates coming and going. One was out of town for the week and texted I could use his bed. It had been weeks since I had my own room with a door, so I was thrilled. The bed had black sheets with white stains on them. I can’t recommend the Sea to Summit Silk Sleep Liner enough; it’s great for an extra layer on a chilly night or to not pay for sheets in a hostel, but it’s not advertised as a whole body condom! I definitely used it to keep the cum out.

What about good stories? So many! That’s why I keep doing it. From the Minnesotan in Northern Japan who taught me which ATMs work best with my card to the Easter Island native who brought me to an overnight cave adventure – I’ve met some amazing people. Along with active hosts, Couchsurfing is great for meet-ups. If you’re in an area for a bit and want to meet like-minded people, many big cities have weekly or monthly Couchsurfing meetups. In Brisbane I went to a bar a few times that had drink deals and lots of friendly couchsurfers. Brisbane is also where I used the social function of just posting “hey, I want to go to Surfer’s Paradise this weekend, who wants to drive me?” and ended up beaching with a dutch couple and a local guy. Super fun.

Do you have any questions? Would you couch surf?