2017-08-09 Isn’t it Ironic

Today I went to the Red Cross blood drive just down the street. I have a long history of attempting to donate blood which is really great for several different reasons.

First and most obviously, you are doing something good and helping people and that gives me a nice feeling. They say that every time you donate blood, you are potentially helping up to three people who need it. The Red Cross is always saying that supplies are low, but right now they are in dire need and my in-box is getting bombarded with requests. My selflessness ends there however.

It’s really also kind of a free health screening. They check your temp and blood pressure and hemoglobin. I think they test you blood for several icky things which would normally cost money at a clinic or lab.

The third reason would be a slight departure from my normal routine which is kind of nice. I used to schedule around lunchtime and it takes a little time so it was an extra few moments of something different to just sit back and relax. That sound strange, but that is how I feel about it. And nobody is ever going to question my long lunch if they know that is my intent. What kind of a person would harp on someone for doing something good like that? Not many.

So today I went to donate and was rejected, for the second time in one week. I was rejected due to my hemoglobin being low which is iron in the blood. You can’t donate if you are a female and your count is less than 12.5. Today mine was 12.1 so I was turned away. I think it was last Thursday or Friday when I tried at the library and it was 11.5. This is why I say I have a long history of “attempting” to donate. My iron is often low.

For several years I took a supplement every day. I first started doing that not because I was not able to donate, but because I had seen my PCP and my blood work showed like 9. something and he suggested it. That’s not low enough to be a serious concern but he stated it could be a contributing factor to why I was so fatigued all the time. So I started taking some every day. My levels came up but I don’t think the fatigue ever really went away. I think my body just naturally has low hemoglobin.

Durning those years, I was always right around the threshold. Sometimes I would make it and sometimes I would be turned away. My grandfather donated regularly and I wanted to follow in his footsteps in giving back in some way. I never did a ton of research into why my iron would be low or what I could do to boost it naturally, I just accepted that the pill was sort of working and that was good enough.

It did, however, yield another unpleasant side effect that I did not even realize until this year. I would have really heavy periods with lots of blood clots. I came to this conclusion because someone suggested I stop taking the iron and see what affect that had on my system. Magically, after about a month or so, my period returned to normal. So that was it, I was done with that supplement for sure. Except it meant that I also had to give up donating. Damn.

I began researching natural ways of increasing the iron in your diet in the hopes that eating foods rich in iron would have a positive impact on my numbers, yet keep those nasty once-a-month episodes from being too terrible. What I found is that some things I like to eat already are high on the list of foods rich in iron. Hamburger number one, spinach and leafy greens and broccoli, dark chocolate, molasses, whole wheat bread ,quinoa, apricots and strawberries and raisons are among the top. Beans too, but gross, I don’t eat beans.

So I made sure I have something every day. I love cheeseburgers so that’s like a top win. It might even be part of the reason I like red meat so much. My body is craving what it is lacking. People say it does that, and seeks out what it wants. Perhaps there is some truth to that. However, the science of increasing iron in your system does not stop there. One has to consider absorption. With my levels still being too low last week, I began looking into this as well.

I had done a quick search at one point and found out that calcium inhibits the uptake of iron into the system and that vitamin C actually increases it. So the easy take away from that is stay away from dairy when you are having an iron meal and also pair it with something like orange juice. When I was taking the supplements, I always took it with orange juice anyway, so now that I am making my own juice, that works out perfectly.

To make matters a little more complex, though, just eating spinach may not have been doing me any good. Apparently there is another thing in spinach, called an Oxilate which prohibits the intake of iron. So spinach becomes a net zero for trying to increase the iron. Same thing with the strawberries and whole wheat (though that is because of phytates and not oxalates – oh my).

I’ve been doing more and more digging into this and have several sites that confirm that absorption is just as important as what you are eating that contains iron. In fact, about a quarter of the things on the list of foods high in iron were also on the list of foods to avoid if you want to absorb more iron. How ironic (pun intended). Iron from animals such as beef and fish are more easily absorbed that that from plant sources.. but there is apparently no perfect pairing to maximize the benefit.

Anyway, after I was turned away today from donating, I was so angry. I don’t want to give up because I am not a quitter, nor am I willing to let go of the benefits I get from donating. I have a feeling that my body is the way it is naturally, and that my iron will always be slightly low and I intend to continue to try and sort this out. I just find it so ironic that this one tiny thing that I want to do is something I can’t do and it feels so outside of my control. Grrrr.

I’ve made another appointment to try again Sunday. So between now and then, I guess it’s all cheeseburgers and orange juice for me. I guess if there is a silver lining, that would be it. 😉

Isn’t it Ironic.. Don’t you think?
A little too Ironic..
Yeah I really do think.
~Miss SugarCookie

P.S. Thanks Alanis for the Complimentary Close

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2017-07-23 The Mantra Cheeseburger.. 3.5

There’s this restaurant on Maple street I’ve driven past dozens of times before. They have a tree out front that is artificial and lights up year round (not a Christmas tree). I’ve never looked up the name or thought to stop before to see what it was like, even though I have thought about it. Last night that is where my date suggested we go for dinner.

When he suggested it, I googled the place and looked at their menu and it reminded me of more of an upscale bar and grill. I mean anyplace that has crab cakes and escargot on their app menu isn’t just your average hole-in-the-wall bar. I was immediately challenged by the fact that they had both crab cakes and a cheeseburger on their menu and I have a rule about ordering both of those if they are offered. But of course I had to go with the Cheeseburger because that’s my thang.

My date asked me how adventurous I was about different food, and I said I wasn’t too adventurous but willing to try whatever so he ordered the escargot. I’ve had that one time before but this was smothered with butter and garlic and cheese and very tasty. It took the wait staff a long time to take our order because we were apparently enjoying ourselves so much with our drinks and conversation and the snails. Eventually I got around to ordering the “Mantra Burger” which is one “half pound” patty served on a pretzel bun with whatever extras you want on it plus a side of fries. I ordered it cooked medium with cheddar cheese.

First of all, there is no way the patty was 1/2 pound of beef, probably more like a quarter. Secondly, it was pretty flat and well done. Not a lot of juice. I had not had a pretzel bun before so that was different, but good and there could have been more cheese, but it was an acceptable amount. I put a few onions on as everything was on the side when it was served (I like tomato but always eat that separately). It came with some house made asian style bbq sauce which was also on the side and I actually liked that better then I thought I would.

The taste of the burger was OK. Not a lot of flavor to it without dipping in the sauce. It was good, but not great. My expectations were high and I was underwhelmed. I think I enjoyed the cocktail and the escargot much more than the burger, and that is making a statement. Still, it was not bad, so I would have to go middle of the road on this one and give it a 3.5.

I’d probably say the same thing about the date itself. I would see him again, but can’t see myself choosing that as my only meal for a long period of time. I would definitely go back to Mantra though but the next time I am going to try the crab cakes!

Cheers to Too Many Choices,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-20: These are a Few of Our Favorite Things…

On the plane ride home I asked my kids about our vacation with very specific questions. I think what you retain in your memories is solidified by recalling it several times, especially when it is fresh in your mind. I’m asking myself the same questions and will see how my answers stack up next to theirs.

What was the best thing you saw..
C: The Space Needle he also added, “We never saw the bean.”
Z: The Redwood Forest and her reply to C, “dude that’s in Chicago.”
Me: Also the Redwood Forest. “and now I guess I need to plan a trip to Chicago.”

Favorite Food or Food Place or meal…
C: Mod pizza in Seattle
Z: Also Mod pizza or Shari’s
Me: I also liked Shari’s but my favorite meal was the picnic we had at Oswald State Park at the beach. Looking at the map I think it was “Treasure Cove” but can’t be certain because I don’t recall seeing a sign”. Second might be the VooDoo donuts or Food truck lunch we had on the first day. I may have picked the Sand Dollar Cheeseburger, because it was so delicious, but I had to eat it so fast and I was pressed for time and also was alone.

Worst food (for comparison)…
Z: The fancy French toast place (which was Portage Bay Cafe).
C: I didn’t have one.
Me: I agree with Z, that Cafe was overpriced and not very good. I would also comment that every meal we ate that was fast food would be on this list. If I had to pick the worst though, it would be the burger place called Shake and Burger. I can’t even remember what city we were in but everything about it was terrible.

Best hotel or night’s stay…
Z: The Holiday Inn Express .. They had the best pool.
C: The Rennasamce Marriott was the nicest but the HIE did have the best pool.
Me: I agree with Cooper, but also really liked the hotel location/view/room we stayed at the Comfort Inn overnight in Eugene Oregon.

Worst hotel (for the sake of remembering)…
Z: The Comfort Inn Portland airport. Pool was not swimmable and we lost our pool toys and they were doing re-modeling and the drywall dust got all over my suitcase and ruined it. The elevator did not work in the morning and the breakfast was “meh”.
C: The Comfort Inn Portland airport.
Me: Yup, this is one thing we all agree on. The Hot Tub was also out of commission and it looked as though mold was growing on the surface under the water. Gross. They did take 45 bucks off our stay, but it did not make up for the experience and not allowing the kids to do one of their favorite things and swim.

Best Experience (not just what you saw but something you did)…
Z: Wings over Washington and Having a tv on our second flight.
C: Also Wings over Washington.
Me: Hands down hiking the Redwood Forest. Even driving through gave me chills. I just love that place. I will say the Wings over Washington was a good ride which was pretty cool the way they really made you feel like you were flying over the state with the sights and sounds and smells and feels. I wish the ride was a little bit longer though. I also enjoyed catching up with Princess KK even if it was just for a day. Driving down the coast was cool and laying on/rolling around the sand dunes of Oregon was newt. Also and also hiking up the path to the top of Multnomah falls. It really is hard to pick a favorite thing when there really were a lot of great moments.

Favorite Activity…
Z: Swimming at hotels
C: Lots of video game time in the car and at hotels.
Me: Again, it is difficult to choose among so many things that were fun to do. This is right up there with best experience, but I had to think of a secondary category because I know the kids enjoyed things that were not “road trip/tourist” experiences. I will admit it is a little disappointing that it would be the case, since we can do all those things in Omaha without spending a penny, but I am hoping their memory of our trip remains positive.

My least favorite activity became all the driving and navigating the terrible traffic and all the people in and around the larger cities. I think they are over-crowded and I would never want to live in either place. I also became increasingly irritated at my daughters picky eating and entitled attitude.

When we arrived home, Josh gave us a ride back to our house and he asked the kids what was the most memorable thing, which was phrased a little differently than the thing I had asked. They both said “getting lost in the Redwood Forest”, which I was shocked to hear come out of their mouths. I mean of all the things we had just talked about, neither of them mentioned that to me. In all fairness we were never “lost”. We crossed the “scenic” road multiple times and could have, at any time, taken that back to the visitor center where our car was parked.

At some point we did go left when we should have gone right (or north instead of south) and ended up on a different trail several miles from where we intended to be. While the kids both blame me for that incident, they admit the signs on the trail were not the best and not all “forks in the road” were labeled. When you are among such tall and majestic trees, it is difficult to see where the sun is and if it is around high noon, tough to know which way is north and which way is south. In any case, a lovely couple of girls gave us a ride back to the visitor center and it was a good thing because it really would have been several more miles of hiking and Cooper never would have made it. It’s definitely worth an honorable mention, as these things are what memories are made of.

Traveling Trio Out,
~Miss SugarCookie (And Z and C too)

2017-06-16 Lot 2 – Delayed Review.. 2.5

This one kinda makes me a little sad. I remember when I first had the Lot 2 cheeseburger a couple of years ago and thought it was the bomb. Something about the sauce and the way it was cooked. It was juicy and tasty and the fries and mustard dip were also amazing. But when I had it this week (and it has been quite a while since I have been to Lot 2), it was disappointing.

I went with my friend Amy earlier this week after seeing a show in Benson and so it was late and there were not a lot of people there. Our waiter was good-looking, and nice, and helpful. He was also patient while we deliberated over what drinks to order from the cocktail menu. I ordered the one with vodka as the base, since I’m a vodka girl and the name of it was something so appropriate, like “My own complication”. I don’t remember, I’ll have to call and ask because I remember thinking “That is so me”.

Unfortunately, the waiter and the cocktails were the highlight and perhaps the kale salad coming in third. The salad was exactly how I had remembered and aside from having too many capers, it was pretty delicious. The cheeseburger, as I eluded to, was not good.

The first time it came out, it was extremely rare. So rare, infant, that the bottom bun was literally soggy and smashed down flat to the plate. Totally gross. Since we split it, the first thing we did was cut it down the middle and knew immediately it was undercooked. We had asked for medium. I remember that place sort of undercooking before, slightly. Sort of like asking for medium and getting medium rare, but this was totally off.

We had it sent back and asked for a re-do. This is something I “rarely” do. Haha. When it came out the second time, it was like they over-compensated and it was now over-cooked. Not feeling into a three-peat, we went for it. The flavor was OK, but not as good as I remember and the bun to burger ratio was too high. There were bites that were only bun. I don’t remember the cheese situation (and that should always be memorable) and the other toppings, including the sauce, were also not noteworthy.

The fries were still pretty good, but by the time we were having them, they were not hot any longer and kind of limp.

With 3 being the middle of the 5 point scale, I have to come under that on this one and go with 2.5. Again, very disappointing, and that is totally a reflection of the cheeseburger itself and not the experience as a whole. I would definitely go back for more cocktails, the steak and frites main course, and another chat with that waiter. 😃

Check Please,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-04-29 Saturday Status Check

I thought I would start today by providing a simple status check, just so it is perfectly clear what the last week has done to me.

Sleep: Last 7 days average 4 hours and 49 Minutes. About 2 hours short of my daily goal. 😔

Exercise: 7 day average step count is 9873. About 2K under my official daily goal and 5K under my unofficial daily goal. 😔

I also went to Zero Jazzersice classes. 😔

Eating: There were several lovely places I had the opportunity to eat at but not write about while I was in Phoenix. However, the majority of what I had was fast food. Fast food either at the hotel or hospital or drive through. I had very little fruit and no veggies. I often ate too much and felt overly full. I was eating early and late and sometimes not at all in the middle of the day. To top it off, I was being sustained a fair bit of time by highly caffeinated and sugared lattes. 😔

Some of this was my choice and some was not, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

I stepped on the scale this morning, and weigh the same as I did the day that I left. So I’m not super upset about the food thing or the exercise thing, but I definitely FEEL icky and need to make sure I start the week (starting with the weekend) off right. Now is the time to turn those frowns upside down.

On that note, I’m going to go unpack my bag and see if I have anything clean in my closet to wear to Jazzersize.

Time to Smile 😃
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-04-13 The VIC Experience.. 4.25

Last night I had dinner at the VI. For those who don’t know, the VI is the Village Inn. It’s an American food chain that is mainly in the midwest states in the United States but does reach as far east as Florida and Virginia and as far west as Oregon and Washington State (not to mention Guam and Alaska). They specialize in breakfast foods and pies, but also have a decent lunch and dinner menu as well. Including Cheeseburgers.

I discovered a few months back that the Cheeseburgers there are pretty top tier, so I thought since I am in the regular habit of describing my experiences in that regard, I would dedicate a blog post to giving the VI a review.

My selection of choice is the All American Cheeseburger. It’s a standard one patty burger on a grilled brioche bun with a selection of several different cheeses to choose from.

I’ve mentioned before that I would never make the mistake of not ordering the fries again because the combo isn’t really reviewable without the fries, but since I’ve had this meal with and without fries for the side like a dozen times, I don’t feel bad admitting that I did not get the fries. Not that they are not good, because they are awesome. I just choose a more healthy side because I know I can already vouch for the fries being delicious.

My choice of cheese is, of course, cheddar, and if there is one thing I think they can do better is use a little extra cheese. Only just because.. well.. cheese.

The hamburger itself is seasoned very well. Not too much and not to bland either and when cooked to medium, is just pink in the middle and very, very juicy. The bun is the bomb and I don’t need catsup or mustard or mayo or any sauce because it’s just so good the way it is. I do add some onion and pickle, for a touch of something else.

I would rate this burger a 4.25 out of 5 and I think that is the highest one I’ve rated so far on this blog. Seriously. There is a reason I go back to VI time and time and time again and always order the same thing. It is not because of the atmosphere in the restaurant as I’m not a super big fan of that. However, the service has always been friendly and the food comes out really fast.

I think the next time I go, I’m going to order the All World Cheeseburger which comes with 2 all beef patties, thousand Island dressing, and an onion ring topper. That will give me something to compare and contrast and frankly just another reason to go to the VI again.

(If you go, go on a Wednesday because you get free fruit pie with your meal. Cherry is my favorite.)

This VIC experience was brought to you by the centers for increased awareness of delicious awesomeness in the form of Cheeseburgers.

Don’t You Want One?
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-03 When the Universe Smiles at You.. 4

There was no set plan for the day yesterday, but everything seemed to happen exactly as it was meant to… and it could not have worked out better.

I worked most of the morning from a standing desk in Ademir’s basement and had a very intense set of calls. I faced issue after issue, and fielded question after question, so by early afternoon, I felt like I had earned my keep and a pass to venture out for food and a little exploring.

On this trip, I’m the driver and Josh is the navigator. This is his home away from home so I just have to say what it is I am in the mood for and whatever that is, he’ll get us there. For our first meal in the city, though, I opted to leave it to him to suggest a place. He decided it was some breakfast/lunch place that was fairly close to our home base that serves baller french toast and so we set out in that direction.

When we got to the general area, though, he could not remember the name of the place and it wasn’t coming up on the map. We parked in a parking lot next to a grill and pub called “Weber’s Front Row” and started walking the main strip. I’m not sure what the name of that area of town is called, but Webster University, where his friend Crystal works, was close by.

After walking up and down a couple of blocks, we didn’t find it so we got back in the car to do more google searching. Before too long, my hunger took over and I suggested we just eat at this place we were parked at. “It’s a grill and pub, and they have Cheeseburgers.” What more could a girl ask for?

When they set that plate in front of me, I could not help but think, “Everything works out the way it is supposed to”. There I was, first day in a city I had never been to before and the universe was handing me the most delicious Cheeseburger. And it really was so, so good.

It was a thick, juicy beef patty topped with a generous portion of melted real cheddar cheese, grilled onions, and dill pickle slices. And all of that was contained within an toasted onion kaiser bun. It was amazeballs. The burger was cooked medium to perfection and served with an accompaniment of golden french fries which were also cooked very much to my liking – crispy on the outside and soft and steamy hot on the inside. It was a total thumbs up. I’m a pretty tough critic so when I say it gets 4 stars out of 5, that’s something.

Josh opted to order “The Lumberjack”, which was also a cheeseburger but instead of a regular bun, they put it inside two grilled cheese sandwiches. On the menu it also came with fried egg, but he elected to get those on the side. It was still a ridiculous mouthful for sure and also delicious (as he let me try a bite). He likes his burger rare, which is not my cup of tea, but he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. It was too much food for us, but that’s part of the fun of being “on vacation”. We left that place completely satisfied and happy that things worked out the way they did.

Was it fate that led Josh to want to go to that area of town? Was it coincidence that the restaurant we were looking for was not coming up in our google map searches? Was it luck that the parking lot we elected to park in was next to a pub? In my life right now, I need to do a little more letting go on questioning why and just be grateful for what’s been given. When the universe smiles at you.. you say thank you and smile back.

Thanks Universe, 😃
Miss SugarCookie