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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Freebies From Freelancers Union

Yesterday, I received a goody envelope from The Freelancers Union. It included a notebook, pen, chocolates and bookmarks. If you're not familiar with them, the union is a wonderful resource for finding jobs, networking, health insurance and more. They even have an online contract creator for independent workers.

Last week Kaitlyn from The Freelancers Union asked me if I would share my story of unpaid wages with the New York Post. I said sure. Back in 2006 I worked for a small ad agency called The Coastal Group. Little did I know, that the owners David and Todd Weiss, were jerks. Each week it became increasingly difficult to get paid. After a month, I left. I continued to try to collect the $5000 they owed me for two weeks of unpaid work. I eventually took them to small claims court. The Weiss brothers were a no-show. The judgement was in my favor. The problem with small claims court is that there is no support or enforcement of a ruling. It was pretty much up to me to find these jerks and get my money. By the time of my court ruling, they had closed shop. I did find this youtube video about them.

Overall, I was happy with the article. Although, the writer neglected to mention the Coastal Group and referred to them as a printing company. Secondly, I look weird in the photo. Nevertheless, The Freelancers Union sent the article to all New York State legislators. The Union is trying to get an act passed to protect independent workers and help them get paid when clients don't pay. Fingers crossed that the legislation gets passed and the legislators think I look cute.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bo Knows

Chick-fil-A highly guards its motto 'Eat More Chikin'. Vermont folk artist Bo Muller-Moore has been silkscreening the phrase 'Eat More Kale' onto t-shirts for the last ten years in an effort to rally people around local agriculture. According to Chick-fil-A-'s lawyers, the phrase 'Eat More Kale' is likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A's intellectual property and diminishes its value.

As far as confusion, I think people know the difference between kale and chicken. Does the fast food restaurant think people will walk into their restaurants and order kale? To me, this seems like an opportunity for Chick-fil-A to start offering a kale option. 

Chick-fil-A's message is always accompanied by a cow, that supposedly wrote the message, 'Eat more chikin.' The obvious misspelling lets you know a cow, and not a human, wrote the message. Because while cows can write they can't spell. Bo's slogan is different. It isn't accompanied by Mr. Ed or any type of mammal that's capable of writing or speaking in English. 

If you visit the fast food giant's website there's a page of healthy dining tips for kids. If Chick-fil-A really wants to embrace a healthy image, you'd think they would get behind a pro-kale message. Or maybe their healthy ambitions are devoid of any real nourishment. 

All I can say is, go Bo! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Upper Juicy West Side

Lately, I've been more into green juice than green smoothies. I think it may have something to do with my over consumption of the vegan chocolate chip cookies I made last Wednesday night. I was too full for a smoothie, but I had room for green juice.

Over the weekend, I visited my neighborhood Juice Generation where I purchased three pints of Essential Green by Cooler Cleanse. Cooler Cleanse was co-founded by Salma Hayek. She's been doing juice cleanses for 15 years. I'm not sure if she's a full-time or part-time vegan. Essential Green is the perfect balance of slightly sweet with loads of green goodness including cucumber, celery, parsley, spinach, kale, dandelion greens, watercress, pear, lemon, and ginger. My husband drank some and said it was intense. If I had tried this juice several months ago, it would have been too intense for me too and not sweet enough. I feel like my sugar avoidance (other than the recent chocolate chip cookie meltdown) has recalibrated my taste buds. 

I also discovered that my hood is getting another great addition. Organic Avenue is opening directly across from Peacefood Cafe. I'm so excited to have three awesome juice/smoothie/vegan food options. Actually more than three if you include the sit-down restaurants Blossom and Josie's. Although Josie's offers animal-based dishes too, making it a good spot for my family. 

My husband wondered if Peacefood would be put off by Organic Avenue strategically moving in across the street. I guess we'll have to see if they become war food Cafe. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Touching Topic

Last week my doctor emphasized that I should never touch my face since this can quickly lead to a sinus infection. Lately, I've become highly aware of how often people touch their faces. I was just chatting with a coworker in her office where I watched her rub her eyes and chin. Yesterday in a meeting one woman spent the majority of the thirty minutes rubbing the area around her mouth.

I've caught myself almost touching my face several times throughout the day. I find that I usually do this when I'm immersed in a writing task. I tend to want to touch my face when I'm thinking or problem solving. I wonder if there's ever been a study to determine if people think faster when they touch their face. I wonder if my work is suffering from my refraining?

In today's Metro paper I read about a science competition called the Ig Nobel Prizes. The competition awards silly yet original research. Recent winners include why woodpeckers don't get headaches and a toy helicopter that collects whale mucus. Last year's winner in the peace category was a study confirming the widely held belief that saying bad words relieves pain. I think my study to determine if face-touching leads to better brain function is perfect.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Waves of Nausea

Over the past week, I've been getting hit with waves of nausea. This usually happens on the subway, which is somewhat understandable. But still odd. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night unable to  sleep. Now that my body is deprived of caffeine there really isn't an excuse for random awakenings. Unable to sleep, I walked into the kitchen where I was hit with another wave of nausea.

Today I looked up side effects of fluconazole. One is liver disease. Funny that a disease can be a side effect. Symptoms of liver disease are nausea and pain on your right side. I had some odd pain on my ride side a few nights as well. I panicked and called my doctor.

My doctor didn't freak out, which was good. Instead he said to cut back on the fluconazole. He said to take my next dose on Saturday or Sunday. I visit my doctor on Tuesday of next week when I get my liver checked. Hope my liver behaves. The doctor seemed to think I wasn't in any real trouble. I guess if I had a history like Courtney Love then things might not seem so ok.

Last night I smelled my first cucumber in about two years. I had forgotten they have a scent. I also noticed that the garlic crackers I eat have a stronger flavor these days. I imagine the flavor is garlic, something I haven't truly tasted in a long time.

It's obvious I need to cut back on the fluconazole. But I hope my sinuses don't worsen. Fingers crossed for continued taste and smell.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pig Out Vegan Style

Friday night my husband and I met friends for dinner at Hundred Acres. The restaurant is known for locally sourcing most of their ingredients and their menu boasts impressive meat-based dishes as well as vegetable sides. I'd visited Hundred Acres many times in the past for dinner as well as their awesome happy hour featuring $6 drinks and glasses of vino.

My husband and I split their local greens salad with fennel, honey crisp apples and herbs. The salad was also dressed with shaved parmesan, which I avoided since dairy is one of my sensitivities. For my main I said to the waitress, "I'm going to order a few sides, creating a vegetable dish for my main." The waitress responded with, "That's fine if you're not that hungry."


Why would eating vegetables mean I'm not hungry when in fact I was close to ravenous?

Instead of responding with, "I have multiple food sensitivities including chicken and beef so I've adopted a less inflammatory vegan/vegetarian-bsed diet.", I decided not to respond to her comment and I said, "I'll have the roasted brussels sprouts, braised mustard greens and crispy smashed creamer potatoes."

Needless to say by the end of the meal I was so full that I was almost uncomfortable. I pigged out on veggies.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fork Floosie Flub

Back in 2006 I formed a once-a-month dining club called the Fork Floosies. (Above is a poorly shot pic of the floosies in action) Including myself, it consists of five women who take turns picking a restaurant to dine at each month. I used to look forward to sharing interesting pasta dishes, hand-made sausages, cheese platters, bottles of vino plus sides of brussels sprouts. Other than the sprouts, most of these items have been removed from my diet thanks to the fungus throw-down going on in my body.

These days the dinners are a source of stress for me because food makes me sick. Instead of whole heartedly picking dishes, I have to carefully avoid most. I hate having to say I can't eat this or that. I feel like my friends must think I'm a high maintenance picky eater.

Last night we gathered for dinner at Almond. My friends ordered interesting wines. For me, water. My friends dove into meaty pasta dishes. I ate veggie sides. We kicked things off by sharing a bowl of olives. Around ten olives in, my sinuses began to get clogged. Not as bad as my pre-Fluconazole days, but there was that ugly mucus build up again.

I suddenly remembered something my doctor had said to me. He said if a food has been sitting out, there's a good chance it could have fungus and I need to avoid these foods. Olives always sit out in bins. Darn! Why didn't I think of this before ordering? I ate my butternut squash puree, brussels sprouts and potatoes with a clogged nose. I just didn't feel great and couldn't wait to get home to nasal douche. This was my first set back since I've begun my new regimen of anti-fungal meds and decongestant. It just sucks it had to happen on a night a had social plans.

I imagine over the course of the next few weeks, I'll be discovering more off limit foods, while relishing in the safety of others. Like today I ate a tropical banana Raw Revolution bar. I ate one bite and then waited twenty minutes to see if I had any reactions. I didn't so I ate a few more bites, then finished the bar a bit later. The bar contains hemp and sunflower seeds. It's exciting to think I can eat foods with these used-to-be-known-as-evil seeds.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Yesterday, I came across a daily deals site for vegans called Vegan Cuts. Granted I already subscribe to Groupon and receive Gilt Groupe deals, Doodle Deals plus even Daily Candy has a version. So far I happily admit I've spent zero dollars on deals. However, Vegan Cuts could push me over my zero limit. Searching their past deals, I found this whimsical necklace that I really want:

While I can't seem to wean my son off chicken nuggets, I'm sure he would take a liking to the necklace. His liking would lead to questions, which may lead to him trying some non-chicken nugget food. He tried veggie nuggets once. He took a bite and then spit it out. The other night I was warming his fav nuggets and he said, "Don't give me the ones with the corn in them." I guess either my husband or I will be eating the rest of the veggie nuggets.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Don't Touch

I had a follow-up visit with Dr. Firshein this morning. He was so happy to hear that I was feeling better and that my body wasn't reacting to everything I ate. He said he felt like this was his Richard Simmons moment and that we should hug and cry over the good news. I of course almost cried. But somehow held it together. The doctor said it's become evident that my body has a difficult time with fungus. Fungus isn't like an apple a day. He said for me to continue on the Fluconazole for another two weeks. Then I'll take the medication every other day for a month or even just once a week, depending on how I'm feeling.

He said I'll have to be forever vigilant with my diet. I must try my best to avoid yeast and fermented foods  to avoid a recurrence. While abstaining from champagne, bread and beer is no fun, I'm happy to say I was able to eat tahini-free hummus last night without a sinus meltdown. The world of food is opening for me. I think I'll be able to eat almonds and other nuts again.

The doctor also said I have to really watch my sugar intake. Sugar feeds fungus. Sugar is an ingredient I've pretty much eradicated from my diet. I use a little agave when making my gluten free vegan muffins and on my morning oatmeal. Otherwise, it's been kicked to the fungus curb.

The last bit of advice he said is for me not to touch my face, since this is one way sinus infections can easily take hold. If I do, then I should rinse my sinuses as soon as possible. I honestly didn't think I touch my face that much. Seems that I'm a face-touching fiend. I've caught myself doing the deed at least ten times today. I managed to stop myself a few times. I rinsed my sinuses after one incident. It's amazing how itchy my face is. Any advice for decreasing facial itch?

In closing, I came across a recipe for a chickpea tart. I can't wait to give it a try.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Magical Plastic World of Disney Dining

Last week I spent at Disney World. Instead of blawging, I was busy standing in lines and dodging Goofy. For weeks my upcoming trip to Disney had been a source of stress due to my limited diet. Let me tell you the majority of food available on the Disney compound isn't good for even a healthy person. Walt Disney World is all about making dreams come true. I'm not sure that a diet of french fries, oversized turkey legs and chicken nuggets is dream-making fuel.

Since Disney feeds people from all over our nation, as well as the world, you'd think they'd want to set a better example. My husband, son and I found one fruit stand at Disney's Hollywood Studios. We ran up to a giant bin of oranges. As I grabbed one, I realized it was plastic. We did manage to find a few real naval oranges in a much smaller bin along with a some rotten apples and bananas. As far as fresh produce, this was it. However, if hot dogs were your fancy there were five varieties to choose from.

The first day I arrived at Disney, I visited the local Whole Foods where I stocked up on organic fruits, some veggies, guacamole and a few other essentials. I also ordered and drank a fresh green juice. Two mornings, I attempted to make green smoothies using my Magic Bullet. No matter how much ice or water I added, the concoction came out too lumpy and undrinkable. I so missed my Vitamix. Everyday, I brought with me apple wedges and gluten free crackers into the park. One day I had my Whole Foods guac and crackers for lunch.

One of my favorite meals was lunch at Tokyo Dining in EPCOT. My husband and I were seated at a window seat overlooking the park. I ordered two avocado and cucumber rolls, which I quickly devoured. Then I ordered a third. I also guzzled a glass of mandarin, pineapple and lemon juice. Shaved ice made the juice taste more like a slush.

Even though I was in sunny Florida with temps hovering around 80 most days, I found myself freezing. My finger tips kept turning white and loosing circulation. Usually this only happens to me in extreme cold. Honestly, I felt like I was starving. One night I broke down in tears at Wolfgang Puck Express. I was so hungry, but there was so little I could eat based on my food sensitivity diet. In a fit of desperation, I ordered a side of mashed potatoes. Tears rolling down my face, I ate the entire plate of potatoes, which I know were full of milk and butter. Luckily, my body didn't freak out over the consumption of dairy-doused potatoes. The warm dish made me feel much better. I realize now in some situations, you just have to go with the flow and eat.

Mid-way through the vacation something miraculous happened. My sinuses became less reactive to food. Was it the magic of Disney? Or something else? I think the addition of Fluconazole and decongestant is make a huge difference. I'm back home now and back to my healthy regimen. My husband was even excited to drink his green juice yesterday and green smoothie today.

Something else magical happened. This morning I was able to smell my perfume for the first time! Since I used to not be able to smell, I based my purchase decision on packaging. Luckily, the packaging reflected a scent I like. I'm almost looking forward to smelling my husband's farts

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Too Much Info Or Not Enough

While searching for a solution to my ongoing sinus/Candida problem I came across this forum on Topix for other similar sufferers. I was so amazed and relieved to find over 300 pages of other fellow sufferers. Suffering never made me so happy. Well, not really.

All of the sufferers who had experienced improvement mentioned that a combination of diet and  prescription anti-fungals had brought them to a renewed state of health. Since I've already overhauled my diet, I hoped that the addition of an anti-fungal would do the trick.

I visited Dr. Firshein on Tuesday. Before I could share my newfound knowledge with him, I broke down crying. The doctor must think I'm a total wackadoo. He passed me a box of tissues. He was calming and understanding. I have found with some other physicians, if I mention researching a health-related matter online, they often frown upon patients attempting to educate themselves. This was not the case at all with  Dr. Firshein.

He agreed that trying Fluconazole along with decongestants was the right strategy to move forward with. I first balked at the decongestants. My ENT had taken me off them 10 years ago because he said they caused high blood pressure. Instead my ENT had me take 10 years of steroids and antibiotics. Honestly, it seems like a few days of decongestants are much less invasive than weeks or months, or worse years, of steroids and antibiotics. This is why it's so important to find a doctor that meshes with your point of view.

I have now been on Fluconazole and Sudafed for five days, and I'm already noticing improvement. I'm not experiencing the extreme inflammation and mucus build up. Yay!

Fingers crossed for more good news to come.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sticky Lips

The other day I swiped across my lips a tube of Sephora lip gloss. Immediately, a rancid taste took over my mouth. I quickly wiped my lips clean and went forward with a bare look. Later on I visited Whole Foods' make up wall for a better lip gloss. There were enough brands and options to overwhelm me.

I settled on a tube of Mineral Fusion's Polished lip gloss and tossed the Sephora tube. The packaging states that the gloss is preservative free and according to their website also gluten-free. All of their products are vegetarian and some are vegan. Not sure where the gloss I purchased falls. But after one swipe of this tube, I was left with the same taste I had before using it, which is exactly what I would expect from a lip gloss. The gloss gave my lips some amped-up shine but without being sticky. Many lip glosses are so thick that if the wind blows, my hair gets stuck to my lips. Hair lip isn't a good look.

I'm eager to try one of their colored glosses next. In addition to tubes they also have gloss wands. Sounds magical. With that, have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Secret ingredient: Fungus!

It's funny how I try so hard to do good things for my body, only to discover my efforts could be hurting me. I visited my doctor yesterday and mentioned the rash along my hair line and on my chest. Even though my rash is on my face, it's at least courteous enough to hide under my long hair and clothing. My doctor asked if I had eaten any new foods. I mentioned the cultured veggies. He said while these can be beneficial they often have fungus and that I should stop eating them until my situation is under better control. Over the past three weeks, I thought I was feeding myself a dose of angelic bacteria and enzymes, but it seems I've been eating satanic fungus. 

Sunday night I tried one of the recipes from the book The Body Ecology Diet. The recipe combined millet, sweet potato, onion and carrots ,which were slow cooked on the stove top for about 30 minutes. I expected this dish to be perfect for me, since I love all the ingredients. I had tried a dish with millet at Candle Cafe and loved it. I had some for dinner that night. It meet the requirement for food but that was it.  I figured it would taste better for lunch the next day. I was wrong. It tasted like a bowl of blah. 

I dumped the blah into the trash and then took a walk to Organic Avenue. This was the first time that I bought lunch, marking a real splurge. I religiously pack my own every day. I chose the Creamy Dandelion Salad, which contained dandelion (duh!), raisins, pine nuts, lemon and I think olive oil. I can't totally remember but I loved the bitter greens with the sweet raisins. Somehow this rough salad had a creamy texture. I also bought a bottle of their Green Love juice. This not-too-sweet juice I preferred over Blossom Du Jour's. It contained kale, cucumber, spinach, celery, romaine, swiss chard, collard greens, pear, lemon, and parsley. I actually have half of the bottle left, which I plan to down later today. 

So there's two attempts to do something good for me gone horribly wrong. I'm realizing both of these detrimental events were caused by the Body Ecology Diet, which highly recommends incorporating cultured veggies into one's diet. Maybe this book just isn't for me. 

This morning my husband saw a new book on the counter titled, The 30 Day Vegan Challenge. He rolled his eyes and said, "When are you going to give up?"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Drag Me To Some Place Nice

Over the weekend my husband and I watched Drag Me To Hell. The film follows the story of a loan officer who evicts a gypsy woman from her home and becomes the recipient of a supernatural curse. The loan officer is slowly dragged to some place not so nice. This is my life with chronic sinusitis. I feel like no matter all dietary changes, all the supplements I take, all the alcohol, sugar and yeast I avoid, I can't escape the hell of sickness.

I did some Googling where I found a slew of people who had suffered from Candidiasis and became allergic to everything they ate. Most of the people were put on prescription antifungals for a long period of time. A strict diet and the meds slowly killed the evil yeast inside them.

This excerpt about my condition makes me realize that there's only so much the natural way can improve my condition:

The spreading yeast fungus prevents proper digestion of all nutrients – the food we eat, the vitamins and minerals we take – thereby depriving the body of what it needs to remain healthy. It can trigger an over-reaction of white blood cells which normally gather to heal infection, making our immune system either over-active or under-active, and multiple health problems can take place.

I have suffered from extreme food-induced sinusitis for almost two years. The areas around my nostrils are permanently red from blowing my nose umpteen times a day. Today I visit Dr. Firshein. I'm hoping he puts me on an antifungal. I want to be done with nasal douching once and for all. I want to be done with stockpiling tissues. I want to be done with spending money on countless doctor visits. I want to be dragged to serenity.