Keto craziness

Well, I did it. I started my keto diet today.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the grocery store to pick up some foods that I can eat now. It was an–illuminating experience. Okay, frustrating is more the word for it. You see, I’d made a list of the basic foods that I’m allowed to eat now, and I was prepared to just get those basic foods. My husband, on the other hand, wanted to try to find keto versions of foods like tortillas and pastas and pasta sauces, and I hadn’t really looked into that. My bad, I know, but I was just planning on ripping off the band-aid and cutting out the carb-y stuff right off. I had my final week of carb-laden eating. I had my last hurrah, my time to think about what I have been eating and what I will be eating and how that affects my future. I just didn’t think about veggie pasta and whether or not it might be keto-friendly.

Today and tomorrow some cookbooks we ordered will arrive, and we’ll have actual recipes and stuff to work with. Right now? Yeah, I’m kind of winging it. I took a bunch of lists of keto-friendly foods and wrote down the ones I’d eat, then we bought some things off that list to get me through until Friday when we can do some serious grocery shopping with the recipes to go from.

It’s odd, but that last week of eating like I normally do (and logging everything I ate/drank) really gave me perspective. Those carb-laden foods I so loved are always high caloric and not as filling as one might think. I was still hungry, still unsatisfied even with no restrictions during that week. And seeing the quantities of food and calories I’d been consuming really made me feel bad. Like, I didn’t realize how bad I was eating until then. I knew I wasn’t eating the greatest of foods, but I didn’t comprehend how self-damaging my previous diet was.

I haven’t made my lunch yet, but I went ahead and logged it in the Carb Manager app that I downloaded at my keto coach’s advice. The app gives me 25g of net carbs per day to eat–after lunch, I’ll have 5g carbs left. (My coach said to cut down to 20g carbs, but I haven’t figured out all the settings on the app yet to change it.) But logging helps. I can see okay, one full bell pepper in my salad is too much, so I’ll have to cut half of one instead. Maybe a quarter pepper. I can put in X number of black olives before it starts adding to my carb count for the day, and the two cups of spinach it defaulted to should be enough to fill me up. A small amount of cheese for added fat and flavor and I’ll be okay.

I can do this. I can lose this weight. I can cut off Death at the pass and say no, not today, man. I’ve got things to do. I have two book series to write yet, and embroidery commissions, and a Laurelhood to strive for, and rapier practice to get back to (once I’m at a weight where I feel comfortable with it again). I’ve got things to do. I can’t let myself croak because I didn’t want to change.

Grocery shopping will still be frustrating for a while until we get a better gist of what-all we’re looking for. I’ll be hungry at times and not have anything other than a handful of nuts or a small piece of cheese or something to snack on. But I’ll be okay. I’ll get through it.

Countdown to keto

After much soul (& internet) searching, I finally decided what to do about my weight concerns. I’m going to be making a drastic but hopefully beneficial change that, frankly, is long overdue.

I’m going to be starting a keto diet next week. I’ve done a lot of pre-diet prep in the form of research, asking questions of my friends and family, and finding a “keto coach” to help me out with figuring out my new diet.

Why start next week? Well, I’m just following my coach’s orders. She said I get seven days to eat as much as I want of whatever I want… That’s right, a last hurrah, if you will, one final chance to eat as I used to before I make a major lifestyle change.

It’s going to be tough; I’m not going to lie. I have huge cravings for sugar, potatoes, breads…. but I can’t eat like that after Wednesday. I can’t allow myself to slip. I have to keep with it, now more than ever.

My weight scares me. It’s not a matter of how I look anymore–it’s a matter of health. A literal matter of life and death. I don’t want to die from some obesity-related comorbidity. I’m only just 40 years old. I want to keep kicking for a long, long time.

Blunt and to the Point

Okay. I get it. I haven’t been participating in the SCA rapier community lately. Like, for months. And I get that my rapier-centric friends miss seeing me on the field. I get that, I do, but I’m so tired of avoiding a long discussion on the why of it. So I guess I’ll have to get a little blunt.

I’m too heavy right now. I don’t feel like my body moves right when I’m trying to fight. The weight of the sword feels wrong, the gorget feels wrong, and I feel wrong. I’m bulky and awkward and not in any kind of shape for the amount of exercise that, say, a tournament or even a short practice entails. My chainmail shirt, which I got for my birthday a year ago, doesn’t fit. My hood doesn’t fit, and I don’t have the free time to make another one right now.

I know I’m disappointing my rapier teacher by distancing myself from the sport. I know my friends are disappointed that they don’t get to fight me or practice with me. I know all this, but right now, at my current weight and in my current state of mind, I just can’t.

Yes, it’s that shallow of a reason. I’m embarrassed to get out there and waddle around pretending I’m not 1000% uncomfortable with it.

So I stab things in different ways. I embroider. Art has become my focus, and it’s something that I can do no matter how big I am. I am actually getting pretty good at it. I found another niche, and it’s one that’s big enough for my tubby butt.

Yes, I know that the exercise from the rapier practice could be beneficial in maybe starting to lose weight (or at least stave off the gain), but it’s like no one understands how awful I feel about this. How humiliated I feel standing there with my sword, roughly one hundred pounds heavier than I was when I joined the SCA. A full adult heavier. Granted, it’s a small adult that I’ve gained, but a fully grown adult nonetheless.

I want to lose weight, I do, but it’s hard to change forty-year-old habits. For half my life I was skinny, and my stomach and brain haven’t come to terms with the fact that I can’t eat anything like I used to.

My primary care physician isn’t much help. He either blames it on my meds or says that I have to cut calories to under 1200 a day to even begin to lose weight. He offers no other solutions, no other advice, and when I try to cut back I’m met with a deep, painful hunger that feels like it will never end.

I don’t like missing out on rapier fun. I don’t like stuffing my face with whatever I can get my hands on. I don’t like having such a gnawing hunger that I start to cough from the acid churning in my empty stomach. I don’t like having to buy larger and larger clothes. I don’t like the way I feel in general.

But most importantly? I don’t like having to say this. I don’t like the pressure I am getting from well-meaning friends who just want to see me excited about fighting again.

So I’m saying it now: until and unless I lose at least eighty pounds and keep it off, I might not come back to rapier. Sorry. I just don’t have it in me, physically, emotionally, or mentally, to get back out there.

I might some day. Start over once the weight isn’t an issue.

But now? Now is no. Just accept me and my choice and maybe I’ll see some of you on the other side of a gastric bypass.

Diamonds in the Rust

It’s hotter than Satan’s balls out today. I’ve got my hair tied up off the back of my neck, but a few scraggly strands fell out and are plastered to my damp skin. They’re itchy, but not as annoying as the swarms of flies buzzing in my ears.

Why am I trudging through the thick, muggy air in this old junkyard, risking tetanus, injury, and heat stroke? Well, I found something the other day. Something strange that could change my life for the better–if I can just find what I’m looking for.

You see, I’m not the most well-off person. I don’t make a lot of money, but I’ve been smart enough to keep my credit score looking decent. Decent enough to get the deed to a run-down old farmhouse at the police auction last month.

It’s not the nicest place, but overall it’s cheaper than anything I could find for rent in town. I started cleaning it up about a week ago, and after umpteen heart attacks when I brushed an occupied spider web out of my hair, it’s finally starting to look livable. Livable by a human being, that is. The spiders are gone now. Mostly. I hope.

Anyway, the farmhouse had a wonky floorboard that was driving me bonkers every time I stepped on it. Since the house was an as-is package, I had to fix it myself. I’m not much of a handyman–er, handywoman, I guess–but I own a crowbar and a hammer, and I can find a slab of wood somewhere to fill in where the creaky board used to be.

No, I’m not in the junkyard to find a slab of wood. Let me finish.

Underneath that creaky board was a brittle, yellowed old envelope. The sticky stuff on the seal was all dissolved, so I didn’t technically open someone else’s stuff… the letter just kinda fell out. And came unfolded when it landed. And it’s not my fault it landed right side up. I couldn’t help but read it.

I didn’t know much about the history of the farmhouse until I did some research after reading that letter. Turns out it was owned by a pretty sketchy dude. I mean, assault-robbery-murder kind of sketchy. The robbery part is where the letter comes in.

The guy’s name was William “Switchblade Bill” Halder. Good ol’ Switchblade Bill knocked off a few jewelry stores a while back. He was caught and locked up, but he got shanked in a prison fight before the cops could find out what he did with the jewels. Not just any jewels: diamonds.

The cops must’ve been pretty dumb to auction off the house before checking any hiding spots, because the letter was from Switchblade Bill. I can’t read who it was addressed to–once the envelope came open, it pretty much disintegrated–but Bill went and wrote a letter to someone detailing what he did with the diamonds.

It’s been thirty years. The car was an old clunker even then, but no one has used this junkyard in over a decade. And I haven’t found any news reports about forty grand worth of diamonds being discovered there. So there’s a chance. A chance for things to go my way for once.

Just as I’m about to give up, when I’m on my last sip of the water I brought, I see it. A nineteen sixty-two Studebaker. It’s looking more shit-brown than the cherry-red it used to be, but I googled that car enough in the past week to recognize its corpse behind that old refrigerator.

I look down at the el cheapo lockpick set I ordered online. Just in case the glove box is locked. Not that I know how to pick a lock, but there’s enough of a cell signal out here that I’m sure I can find some kind of a tutorial online. It can’t be that hard, right? I mean, it always looks easy enough on TV.

My first real obstacle comes when I pull the handle and the door is jammed. It wiggles a bit, but it won’t come open. A nearby hunk of metal takes care of the dirty window, and I’m able to shimmy inside.

My clothes are drenched in sweat, and I’m not sure it’s entirely from the heat. This is it. This is where I get my life out of the fucking gutter. This is where I come out on top.

The lock turns out to be a bigger pain in the ass than I thought it would be. It’s beyond rusty, and the tumblers won’t budge. In the end, I have to climb out of the car window, find my hunk of metal, and climb back in.

It takes a few whacks to break the lock. My palm is sliced to shit from the rusty piece of metal. I’ll need to get a tetanus shot when I get back to town. Maybe a couple of stitches. It’ll be worth it, though.

I take a deep breath before I pull open the glove box. My heart is pounding, and I feel kind of faint. I reach out, and–

–and at first I think the sudden chest pain is from nerves. It takes me a second to look down at the growing red stain on my shirt.

That’s not supposed to be there. I know I’ve been crawling around a rust bucket for the last hour, but the stain shouldn’t be growing.

I hear laughing coming from outside the car, and now I’m really confused. I thought I was the only one here. Who’s laughing at my rust-stained shirt?

I turn my head and see a huge guy standing about twenty feet away. He’s smoking a cigar I think–there’s smoke of some kind coming from his hand, anyway.

I blink, and for some reason it’s a super slow blink. Slo-mo. Like someone is messing with the remote control for my life. The big guy isn’t affected, though, because in the span of that blink he’s right next to me.

It’s not a cigar he’s got in his hand. It’s a gun with a funny looking barrel, like the kind you see assassins using in movies. One of those things to make the gun quiet. What are those things called? I can’t think of the word…

“Thanks for finding my partner’s stash for me,” he says. “Saved me a buttload of trouble.”

Partner? I’m so confused.

I open my mouth to talk, but all that comes out is a wheeze.

The guy leans in the window and shoves me into the driver’s side seat. I flop over like a limp… something. Why can’t I think of words? And hell, why is everything still moving so slow?

I hear the clatter of something small and hard falling onto the floor beneath the glove box. I want to object to this guy’s thievery, but as my eyelids start to sag I smile a little at the irony. Here I was, shiny new lockpick set in hand, ready to rob a dead man, and now I’m getting robbed before I can do the robbing.

The car seat underneath me has a bright red stain too. Huh. Wonder where that came from.

Welcome to Hell

Hello, all! Today’s insomniac post will be a short/flash (don’t know what length yet as I am pantsing it) story based on a prompt I saw on Facebook. Enjoy 🙂

I blink and cough, my eyes and throat irritated from the smoke. A quick glance at my surroundings has me a little confused. Where am I? Where did these candles come from? And who–or what–is this scaly guy that’s standing here grinning from ear to ear…at least, I think those are ears.

“What the hell?” is about the most eloquent thing I can manage at the moment. The scaly guy chuckles and grins even wider. Are those multiple rows of razor-sharp teeth he’s sporting?

“Hell, indeed,” he says. “Tell me, Karen, now that I’ve summoned and bound you, are you prepared to do my bidding?”

“Summoned? Bound?” I look down but see no ropes or chains. When I try to step out of the circle, however, I find I’m unable to get past the boundary marked by the candles.

“Yes, Karen. Summoned from the depths of Hell, bound, and at my mercy.” A thick string of saliva runs down what passes for a chin on his face. “Again I ask, are you prepared to do my bidding?”

Bidding? What is he talking about? I swallow past a hard lump in my throat. “What is your ‘bidding,’ anyway?”

His mouth gapes open as he laughs. More drool oozes down, and I’m about to lose my half-caf nonfat mocha latte at the sight of him.

“My request is simple. I require a boon, a favor most vile.”

My inability to escape this circle, combined with the creepy vibes this scaly guy is putting out, are suffocating me. I’m trying to stay calm, but I’m way out of my comfort zone. I decide to work towards my strengths and reply with my go-to power play.

I cross my arms over my chest and tilt my chin up, hoping that I cut an imposing figure. I look the dude square in the eyes and say, “I want to speak with your manager.”

The guy’s shoulders release, and he sighs. “Yes, Karen. That is precisely what I need.”

Forward Momentum

All’s steady on the embroidery project front this week. I’m down to three projects due next month (one almost complete, one not yet started, one in-progress), and they’re spaced out a bit in when they’re due. Then I have a project due way in December, so I have time on that one.

It’s a little bit of a relief to be pared down on the number of works-in-progress I have as far as embroidery goes. I was starting to panic a bit at the thought of all the things I had to do. Lol

Speaking of embroidery, I got myself a little birthday present with some of the cash I received as gifts:

I love it! Simple yet cool, and everyone says it suits me. I mean, I almost always have a needle in my hand when I’m not sleeping, eating, or working, so why not have a needle in my hand all the time? Lol

My name is really starting to get “out there” in the Kingdom for embroidery. I am getting more requests for things, and so far I’ve gotten two paid commissions. I still don’t really know what to charge, but luckily in the SCA people understand the amount of time and effort that go into a craft, so they’re willing to pay closer to a reasonable amount for work that’s done.

My goal for the next five years? Learn more types of embroidery, do more embroidery for myself (it’s kind of embarrassing to be an embroiderer and none of my garb that fits has embroidery on it!), do more cross stitch and mundane/just-for-fun embroidery, and, if I work hard enough, a Golden Needle from a future King and Queen. Is five years too ambitious for the last one? Maybe, but I am going to keep working at it. The more I do, the better my chances are.

So bring on the commissions, people! I have a portfolio to build! 😉


It’s that time of year again! My 40th birthday has officially arrived, and I feel–just the same at 39. Lol We had a nice party at my house last night to celebrate, and Rory’s feeling better (I haven’t been in the mood to post the past few days because he wasn’t well, but with medications and time he’s been doing much better). A bunch of my friends came over, and my family visited from next door.

Most of my birthday money is going to an attachment we want for the car, but I have a little cash left over that I’m trying to decide what to do with. Do I want a small, simple sewing/embroidery-related tattoo, or do I want to get a couple new piercings? Decisions, decisions.

The embroidery is going full swing, with still several projects-in-progress, and I’ve done a lot of preparatory work on the Abnormal series but no more actual writing. I think I need to wait until the bulk of the embroidery is done before I get back to it…It’s just stretching myself too thin to try to do ALL THE THINGS.

The interview for Muses and Murderers didn’t happen the other day; hopefully today goes better for planning and execution. I’d like to get this webcast off the ground, but it’s slow going when your co-host is in another state.

All in all, 40 is turning out so far to be not a big deal. I mean, it’s a “milestone” birthday I guess, but I don’t really feel any different. Not wiser, not necessarily older, just me…with presents. 😉

Musing about murder

Theoretically (pending test of Skype), today will be the first taping of Muses and Murderers Webcast, the brainchild of myself and fellow author Angelique Jordonna. I say “theoretically” because I’ve been so busy with embroidery and my own writing that I kinda haven’t been organizing and promoting the webcast like I should be.

Don’t get me wrong; we’ve got enough guests lined up for a solid couple of months worth of shows. But I should be getting the word out.

Today’s show will be the first recorded, but it won’t be the first episode aired. No, I have to learn how to edit the video and what have you. That, and I promised someone else they’d be the first guest, so I have to air them “out of order” in a manner of speaking.

Fingers crossed that everything goes well! I am kind of nervous about it all of a sudden. I mean, it’s just going to be myself, Angelique, and an actor friend of mine, but still….nerves.

Then add to that the fact that my little big boy Rory is sick or something. He’s been trying to use the litter boxes all day long and–nothing. Just nothing. I’m super worried, but he’s acting more or less normal otherwise. We got him some probiotic fiber treats in case it’s constipation, but if it’s not that I don’t know what I’m going to do. Super, super worried.

Angelique moved recently, and her service is sketchy where she’s at. So I need to get in touch with her to find out if she can even do the show today.

And I gotta do something to distract myself from the worry.

Projected forecast for the next week and a half

It’s almost here–my week-long staycation from the day job! I have Monday still to work and then I’m a free agent. Well, not quite free. I have a paid commission to work on during this week. And I’m pretty much done with the first super secret project, so it’s on to another, personal secret project, plus a couple commissions for elevations and an investiture.

My 40th birthday falls during my week off (hence the reason I’m taking a week off lol), and I’m having a small party at my house the day before. I’d say it feels weird to be almost 40, but I’ve been telling people I’m “almost 40” (instead of saying “39”) for months now, so it almost feels like I’m already 40. The next week and some change is just a formality.

Once I’m reasonably caught up with projects, I’ll slow down on the embroidery and get back to writing. My publisher is hosting a “90 days to a submission-ready manuscript” workshop starting next month, so I hope I can be mostly caught up with embroidery and get working on that ASAP.

I know I can’t work on embroidery the entire week I’m off…that would be suicide! Lol I’ve also got some testing and doctor’s appointments and stuff sprinkled in there, and I’ll of course take intermittent breaks to keep my joints from seizing up on me.

It’ll be nice to have that week away from the monotony of the day job. I like my job, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the same thing week after week after week after week after…well, anyway, it wears on a soul after a while.