Relieving Stress: 8 Reasons Leftovers Are Wonderful

Day to day life gives more stress than many feel possible to bear. Why do we add even more stress by adhering to some mysterious obligation to cook every night? It is possible to not eat out, and also not cook every night … and that is where leftovers come into play. You still get the delicious healthiness of a homemade meal (because it is homemade!) without the pressure of needing a plan for dinner every night of the week.

There is so much to love about leftovers, and yet many people despise them. Here's 8 reasons they are wonderful!

Two Sides:

When it comes to leftover food from meals, there seems to be two main sides: the lovers, and the …eh hem … people who are most definitely not fond of them. It is always shocking to me when people who hate leftovers and can’t afford to go out to eat often also hate cooking (but are good cooks). If the person who created the meal is a good cook, then why would the leftovers not be enjoyable? There are often times when dishes are good the first night, but even better as leftovers (because the flavors have had more time to meld).

Reasons Leftovers Are Great Options:
  • They provide a homemade meal that takes little effort to reheat (hello, microwave!) – great for busy adults
  • Homemade leftover meals are typically much healthier than fast food or frozen meals (and you can control how healthy/unhealthy they are when the meal is initially prepared)
  • If you loved the meal the first time, you can enjoy the same dish again without having to make it again.
  • Making a big batch of a meal and eating it as leftovers throughout the week is usually cheaper than preparing just enough food for the first meal.
  • When you make big batches, you can easily use up larger quantities of ingredients and not have to worry about how to use them, or about leftover ingredients going bad in the refrigerator.
  • Some leftovers (like soup) can even be frozen and reheated months later when you want it again (a great option if it’s a meal you don’t want often).
  • You can save money on your utility bills by reheating leftovers instead of turning on the oven to cook a fresh meal – using inside ovens heats up your home and makes your air conditioning work harder (raising your electric bill).
  • Preparing food to eat as leftovers throughout the week can help you stick to a diet or healthy eating plan more easily – if you can quickly reheat a healthy meal and assuage your hunger, you are less likely to eat quick (often unhealthy) snacks that happen to be nearby OR get so hungry that you binge eat.

Are you sold yet? I’ll give you some time to think it over …

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding

Strangely enough, this book was not one I picked for myself. A book I ordered online did not come; this book by Fielding came in its place. With a little bit of back and forth with the seller, we were given a refund and told we could decide what happened to this book – no need to ship it back. If we didn’t want the book, it could be donated.

Fielding's book The Edge of Reason definitely got a reaction from me as a reader - and not necessarily a positive one. This book makes an impression.

You know me, I couldn’t resist reading an (unexpected) free book! (Even if it was the second in an unfamiliar series.) The book definitely garnered a reaction from me (oftentimes an angry reaction), so I decided to share my opinions on it.

Entering the World of Bridget Jones:

For the first half of this book I only had complaints – the book reads as thoughts from Bridget’s head, which means unless it is a direct conversation, the “sentences” are almost always incomplete. That drove me absolutely bonkers throughout this novel and I almost stopped reading due to it.

Time is marked by dates, and under each date is a short note from Bridget about her weight and caloric intake along with other information about the day. Although I couldn’t find a mention of Bridget’s actual height, it was distressing to read her constantly fretting about weighing 130 lb (give or take). Seeing as The Edge of Reason reads as if primarily geared towards young adult readers, it seems that it would be detrimental to those same readers to have yet another character thrusting numbers at them about how much is okay to weigh and how many calories are *too* many. Not to mention, Bridget and her friends are heavy drinkers, and at one point experiment with *natural* (still illegal) drugs.

The obsession Bridget, Jude, and Shaz have with dating/self-help genre novels is frankly rather distressing, but I’m happy to report that was one of the things that improved towards the second half of the novel.

(Offensive) Shock Value Techniques:

In the first half, Fielding randomly incorporated a boy with supposed schizophrenia for no visible purpose other than shock value, which I was angry about. The addition of the boy was unnecessary – he only appeared in the story for a short time and quickly disappeared again – and was also very unhelpful for the general fear about mental illnesses. Another anger-inducing slight to people with mental illnesses in their loved ones was found on pg. 152, when a homosexual character claimed he didn’t want to talk (due to sad feelings about an ex-boyfriend) “Because I have lost my former personality and become a manic-depressive.” Fielding does realize that mental illness does not work that way, right?

There were other, slightly less offensive things included for shock value, but the book did get better sometime after the halfway mark. There were a few things funny enough that I laughed out loud, and at the end it seemed that Bridget had grown since the beginning of the novel.

Final Thoughts:

All in all, I would not want to read this book again – or anything else by this author – but I am glad to have stuck with it until the end. The story ends well, but it is still not recommended reading material for those who have less self-confidence or sense of self.

Not Quite Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole has never been a favorite of mine. I recently stumbled upon an interesting concept, though – green beans topped with similar ingredients to what you would find in the casserole, instead of being in casserole form. In this format, each person could control how much green beans they got versus how much topping – count me in!

Traditional green bean casserole has everyone eating the same ratios of saucey green beans, but this revamp lets the person decide their own ratios!

The recipe is fairly easy, and yummy as well.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg bacon
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 3 tbsp butter, oil, or bacon fat (what I used)
  • 6 stalks green onion, finely chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cheap off-dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/4 c beef broth
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 c parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • parmesan cheese for topping, optional (to taste)
  • french fried onions, optional (to taste)
Green Bean “Casserole” How To:

Cook the bacon until crispy but not burned. Let it cool, and then crumble it up or finely chop it. If you want, you can save the fat for using some of later in the recipe. If you prefer not to cook bacon, you can buy bacon already cooked and crumbed (or leave it out altogether).

Remove both ends from all of the green beans, and without cutting them smaller heat them in a pan of water over med. heat until cooked to your preferred tenderness (I cooked mine roughly 5-10 min. I’m not sure of the exact time because I was prepping other ingredients. They were tender but not at all mushy). If you prefer, steaming would be a great way to cook them.

While the green beans are cooking, heat your cooking fat (butter, oil, or bacon fat) in a medium saucepan until warm enough to saute. Add the green onion. Cook until soft, then add the sliced mushrooms. Stir frequently. When the mushrooms have shrunk, add the garlic and Italian seasoning. Mix well.

There should be a bit of juice in your pan at this point. Add the flour, and stir until there are no flour lumps. Add the wine and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the broth and sour cream. Stir. Once small bubbles start rising in the mixture, add the cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Add bacon and combine.

To Serve:

Plate your desired amount of green beans, and drizzle sauce over them. You can use as much or as little sauce as you want. Top with parmesan cheese and french fried onions. Enjoy!

Not Quite Green Bean Casserole

 

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Wall Art

It’s been said before how crafts like this Wibbly Wobbly wall art are good distractions for people with mental illnesses (or other stress). Although this post is a bit late for Christmas (it was originally intended to be a Christmas present, and I didn’t want the recipient to see it early) it can still be a birthday present – or a present to yourself …

This idea was based on a picture I saw online that said, “whatever, I’m late anyways”. The idea was great, and I wanted to do something with it for a present. When my husband and I were discussing presents one day and I showed him the picture, he (jokingly) suggested “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” (from Doctor Who, if you aren’t familiar). Since my sister loves Doctor Who, and both her birthday and Christmas were coming up, it was settled.

Birthdays are always coming up and fans of The Doctor are everywhere! This is a piece of wall art I made for an upcoming family birthday. It was fun and easy to make, so here's how it's done.

Materials:
    • 22 in x 28 in canvas (or larger if you want to do the whole clock) – I got mine at Michael’s. Look for sales, I got mine in a 2 day sale for 70% off.

22"x28" canvas

    • 250 ml tube of paint (choose a lighter color so the letters and numbers stand out) – I used bright aqua green acrylic paint from Michael’s. The size I purchased does not appear to be available online, but it was $11. I recommend looking for a sale.

250 ml bright aqua green acrylic paint

    • 2 – 12 ml tubes of paint (choose a dark color, I used black and violet. You could also just use one color.) I already had mine from other projects. I only added the size to let you know that it doesn’t take much – the size I used was more than enough. It also appears the size I used is only available in sets of several tubes. In-store, Michael’s has a large selection paints similar to the one I linked to for .50 – $1.00.
    • letters and numbers (I used a wooden 250 piece set from Michael’s, which has plenty of letters to spell “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” as well as all of the necessary numbers for the clock). You can also use stickers, or paint yours on.

250 piece wooden number and letter set

    • clock hands (I got mine from Wish – if you go that route be warned that shipping usually takes about a month. They are very cheap, though, and I couldn’t find them anywhere else, so plan ahead. You could also paint these on if you wanted).

3 piece clock hands from Wish

Other Materials (You Probably Already Have):
  • 2 paint brushes (you’ll want one that’s at least an inch wide, and a small one for painting the letters.)
  • paper plate or paint tray
  • protection for whatever surface you’ll be working on (I use a large piece of paper that came as stuffing in a package I got in the mail.)
  • wax paper (optional) – this is good for setting the letters on while they dry. They come off really easily after drying.
  • hot glue gun
  • hot gun glue sticks
How To:

Using the 250 ml paint, coat the entire front and sides of the canvas. After it dries, paint another coat, even if you don’t think it needs it – you’ll be happy about this later when your project looks great! It’s important to wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second coat so you can get proper coverage.

If you bought wooden letters and numbers, or pieces that need to be painted – with the two 12 ml tubes of paint, cover the front and sides of each of your letters and numbers. Do not paint the back – it is unnecessary since the pieces will be glued to a canvas. I used black on the numbers and violet on the letters. Only one coat was necessary. Lay the pieces on wax paper to dry.

Painting the wooden numbers.

Numbers to Paint:
  • (1) – #0
  • (5) – #1
  • (2) – #2
  • (1 EACH) – #’s 3 through 9
Letters to Paint (spells “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey”):
  • (4) – B
  • (2) – E
  • (3) – I
  • (2) – L
  • (2) – M
  • (1) – O
  • (1) – T
  • (3) – W
  • (4) – Y

Of course, check my figures to make sure you have the correct amount of each letter and number. I’m only human, and do make mistakes. 

Once your canvas and pieces are dry, arrange the pieces on the canvas. Make sure you lay out the clock pieces too, so you can put the numbers the proper distance away. You want to get an idea of the look you are going for before you attach them. I arranged mine like this:

Unfinished canvas

This is the unfinished canvas. After this photo was taken, I decided to put a number 1 on the top left, as if part of the 11 was still in place on the clock. You can arrange yours however you want. If you wanted, you could even do the full clock (you would need a larger canvas) and have various pieces missing from the clock and either falling or lying beneath the clock (as seen on this canvas).

After you find the look you want, it’s time to break out your hot glue gun and hot glue sticks.

Hot Glue Time:

I recommend leaving the pieces in place, and picking them up one at a time to apply the hot glue. After applying the glue, put the piece back in place firmly, and then move on to the next piece. That way, you don’t have to mark the canvas for positions and you can still have a good idea of where the piece goes. It won’t be in exactly the same place as before (unless you have a really good memory and can place a piece precisely on the first try) but it will still look great. It might even look better than how you had it arranged before!

Don’t glue the clock hands yet – work on the numbers before that. It is a good idea to glue certain clock numbers first – for instance, on my clock I glued the numbers 12, 3, and 6 first. These numbers determine the positions of the other numbers. Even in cases where the numbers are falling, it is good to have these base numbers down as a marker. Always keep in mind the length of your clock hands (you can probably trim them if absolutely necessary, but be careful not to leave any sharp edges).

Don’t Glue the Clock Hands Yet:

After you have glued all of your numbers, bend the NOT YET GLUED clock hands (GENTLY!) so that they come out from the canvas. If you have already glued the hands, you can either leave them unbent, or attempt to very carefully bend them. Bending them after they are glued is simply a little more difficult – but bending adds to the unbalanced (wibbly wobbly) look of the clock.

If your clock hands are from Wish, then they will fit together with the hour hand on the bottom, the minute hand in the middle, and the second hand on the top. After placing them together, glue the underside of the hour hand where the all join. The hands from Wish have a small metal piece here, and if you apply plenty of glue it will help hold all three pieces together. You can also glue the places near the metal where the hands overlap. The glue that overflows from that section will be used to fasten the hands to the canvas, so after you glue them together, carefully place them in position on the clock.

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey – Finished Product:

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Wall Art

It took me 3 days to finish this entire piece. Most of that time was waiting for the paint on the various pieces to dry. It’s not hard at all, and was enjoyable to work on.

Have fun!

The Witch Of Lime Street by David Jaher

The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World
By: David Jaher

In a captivating narration of a face-off between the accomplished escape-artist Houdini and the charming hostess of 10 Lime Street, Jaher draws us into the unknown. Houdini has stunned audiences everywhere with his daring feats, but he desperately wants to communicate with someone he loved and lost – his mother. With a slow build, Jaher sets the scenario and introduces the cast. In an unfulfilling search to contact his mother, Houdini exposes flimflam artists everywhere – he has a very definite view on what is acceptable or not, and taking advantage of those grieving loved ones falls into the “unacceptable” category. When Houdini befriends a huge proponent of the Spiritualist movement but remains unconvinced of the mediumship displayed being genuine, it isn’t long before a scientific contest to prove authentic mediums exist is established.

In this captivating narration, Jaher brings to life the show down between the witch, Margery, and Houdini - the escape artist.

Not a Typical Historical Read

Despite personal opinions on mediumship and séances, there were events in The Witch of Lime Street that had me as a reader baffled. As Jaher’s novel is depicting actual historical events, it would have been easy for the novel to come across as dry and boring, however that was not the case. Once the stage was set the novel drew me in and I was eager to discover what happened next. Houdini was a very complex, realistic character. Despite his pride and arrogance, he also came across as deeply layered – passionate about his cause and desperately determined to prevent “mediums” with nothing more than street tricks (something Houdini himself was very familiar with) from fooling the bereaved.

The “witch” known as Margery was also a very complex, well-written character. Despite her background, Margery is described by all who meet her as cultured and of a far better stock than a typical run-of-the-mill medium. Despite the rigorous testing Margery is put through (and tolerates with good humor) in order to determine whether or not her mediumship is genuine, Margery offers very little resistance and continues to go above and beyond as an excellent hostess. As Jaher introduces more information about Margery, as a reader you start to realize the difficult position Margery is in. She is a character that induces a sympathetic response the more you understand her.

More Information Would Be Nice

It would have been nice to hear more about involvement from Bess, Houdini’s wife (she is mostly present at the beginning and end of the novel, and not in any major way) however, with the sources Jaher worked with for this novel it is understandable that she may not have been mentioned much (and this story does not revolve around her). I also would have very much liked to have read whether any verdict on the Crandon’s involvement with the “lost boys” was determined – and if not the Crandon’s, where were those children? Jaher briefly introduces the mystery in the chapter entitled “Lost Boys” (pg. 345), but doesn’t tell us of any solution.

Typically, historical novels are not in my zone of interest, but The Witch of Lime Street was a fascinating read and I’m glad to have read it. Jaher primarily came across as pro-Spiritualist, but he still presented the story with countless sources as evidence to back him and without noticeably skewing the facts either way. For those who wish to review Jaher’s sources, he lists them in the back of the novel.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Why I’m Saying “No” to Seeing the Doctor

Before we go too far, let me reassure you – the doctor in this case is a medical doctor, not a psychiatrist. Feeling reassured? Good!

After years of appointments that never find a diagnosis or a solution, I'm done agreeing to be poked and prodded for various tests. I'm saying "no" to seeing the doctor.

Issues That Don’t Leave

For as long as I can remember, I have had a few issues that have never gone away – despite countless doctor visits and more medicine than I care to remember. One of these issues is earaches. My ears hurt almost constantly, and the pain only alternates between ‘ignorable’, ‘tolerable’ and ‘unbearable’. It is worse at night, since I sleep on my side. My pillows are arranged oddly for this purpose – layered with one overlapping the other so there is less pressure on my ear when I sleep. I can’t stand to put things in my ears, but I have over the counter ear drops for pain when it is unbearable.

Migraines are also an issue for me (when I don’t have a migraine I almost always have a headache), and stomach problems (meaning throwing up a lot and not being able to help it). Both of these come and go and sometimes seem to be connected. (If I have a migraine I often start to throw up. Earaches can also make me throw up if the pain is bad enough.) Unfortunately, the throwing up happens much more often than the migraines do. Growing up, getting sick constantly was a problem for several years – and no, I did not have any eating disorder. The older I’ve gotten, the longer the breaks are between ‘episodes’ – I might go months without throwing up, but then throw up almost daily for weeks.

Doctors and Tests

My concerned parents took me to doctor after doctor. These doctors would recommend specialists, who would order all kinds of tests – with no noteworthy result (other than costing lots of money). They had all kinds of ‘answers’ – acid reflux, my stomach empties slowly, blah blah blah – but no answers to the migraines, headaches, or earaches. Well, no answers other than, “these aren’t physical problems” (it’s all in your head).

Even for the intense earaches, I have only been diagnosed with an ear infection once. Two years ago, a doctor looked into my ears (years after the only ear infection diagnosis) and mentioned I had a lot of scarring on my eardrums. Doesn’t that indicate that this IS a physical problem? Isn’t that some kind of proof that this is not all in my head?! This has always been a losing battle, though, and I have given up.

Chronic Illness

I have family (not blood related, marriage related) with chronic illnesses. 90% of the time, anything I hear about them is that they are in the hospital, seeing a doctor, or having some kind of test run. They have an official diagnosis for their problem, (which took years to get) and they still don’t have a solution! (Unless you count enough prescriptions that they could open their own pharmacy). In their case, going to the doctor and receiving treatment is life or death. They still have more problems than they started with, though, due to all of the medications they are on. Obese? Check. Nerve damage? Check. I could go on, but I’ll spare you. My point is, I have a choice.

Not Life or Death

Earaches, migraines, headaches, vomiting – they are miserable – but they are not life or death. I can decide whether or not to be a human guinea pig for a doctor that has no idea why I’m sick (and probably won’t figure it out for a long time, if ever). Doctors had their chance to help me. YEARS of chances. From everything I have seen about chronic problems, though, they do not go away. The reason doctors can’t figure out what is wrong, is because they don’t have a solution. Sure, they can prescribe something for the pain, but I have over the counter pain killers for that. After years of doctors visits and testing, I would rather rely on pain killers that don’t entirely kill the pain than doctors with their bundle of prescriptions and all of the tests they want to run.

With over the counter pain medicine, I don’t need a doctor, or insurance, or to wait in a waiting room for an hour. An appointment isn’t necessary, and I don’t have to keep hearing that since the doctor can’t figure out what is wrong (and doesn’t want to admit it) that it’s all in my head. I don’t have to suffer the side effects from the prescription medicines, and I’m saving a crap ton of money. Yes, the pain is miserable – but so are doctors that don’t know what the problem is.

I HAVE A CHOICE.

My situation is not life or death. I will not be a guinea pig for doctors to poke and prod until they think they know the problem.

Goodbye, doctors.

 

Sincerely,

A Frustrated Ex-Patient

After You – Jojo Moyes

Recently, I picked up ‘Me Before You’ (also by Jojo Moyes – here’s my review) at the recommendation of my sister-in-law. It was extremely sad (I cried afterwards) but a very well written piece of work. After experiencing ‘Me Before You’, I was hesitant to read ‘After You’ (it’s the 2nd book to ‘Me Before You’) – I didn’t want my heart broken by a book again! However, Moyes talent drew me in again, and I read ‘After You’.

In a beautifully written piece of work, Moyes draws us into Lou's world yet again. Although 'After You' is at times heartbreaking, it was definitely worth the read.

‘After You’, a Review:

‘After You’ did not break my heart in the same intense way as ‘Me Before You’. That’s not to say that this was not a sad book in any way – it was sad at times – but the overall tone of the book was not particularly sad.

An extremely unexpected character shows up in Louisa’s (Lou’s) life (with disastrous results) and Lou experiences life in a whole new way. Through plenty of time and the help of friends and family, Lou learns how to move on – and that it’s okay to live life to it’s fullest.

The characters in ‘After You’ are at times raw and painful, but real and relatable as well. Moyes crafts a story where all of the characters come to life. There were times when I was unable to put the book down because I had to know what happened next – there were also times when I was too horrified to continue reading.

‘After You’ didn’t leave me in a puddle of tears like the previous novel did, but the ending was so bittersweet and tender that I promptly described the entire storyline to my husband. It’s the kind of story that leaves you with the barest ache when it’s over, in part wishing it had continued (because it was real, and you were there) – but also in part glad it is over (because the intensity can get to you).

Please read ‘Me Before You’ before delving into ‘After You’, but I think you will thoroughly enjoy them both (and maybe not cry quite as much with the second novel). I will eagerly await any future writings from Jojo Moyes.

 

 

Exercising Memory: Calzones

Calzones aren’t difficult at all – but they do exercise your memory. With these calzones, we will make our own sauce and dough – so you definitely need to remember which step you’re on! It is beneficial to exercise our memories whether we have a mental illness or not, but especially if we do have a mental illness. Oftentimes, people with mental illnesses don’t have the best memories (which drives my husband crazy).

After hearing my sister talking about how she was making pizza for lunch, I started thinking about pizza-ish foods. I didn’t want a pizza, at least, not exactly … so a calzone sounded perfect.

We talk about food frequently – discussing a different recipe, she mentioned making her own pesto. I still had calzones on the brain – calzones with pesto instead of pizza sauce? Yes, please!

Made with homemade, yeast-free pizza dough and homemade pesto, this warm, cheesy calzone is sure to make your mouth water. It's time consuming, but well worth the wait.

**I highly recommend breaking this recipe into at least two days. You can make the dough and pesto the first day, and maybe prep the toppings (slicing bell pepper and mushrooms, grating cheese). The second day, you can put it all together.**

Starting with homemade dough:

If you have a favorite pizza dough recipe, that will work just fine. I used my favorite recipe, but didn’t have any yeast … so I made a few alterations.

This is a bread machine recipe.

  • 1 3/8 c water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp yogurt (I used vanilla greek yogurt)
  • 4 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Pour the water into the pan, along with the olive oil and yogurt. There is no need to mix anything. Put the flour on top of the liquid, try to keep it somewhat level. Add the baking soda on top of the flour. Set your machine to it’s dough setting. Mine took about 30 min.

Recipe yields 2lbs.

It did change the dough – the dough didn’t rise. Instead of a typical pizza dough, I ended up with a calzone with a crust similar to pita bread. It was delicious. If you want the usual pizza crust, feel free to stick to your recipe and use yeast.

*Note* If you would rather use yeast, this recipe originally used 2 tsp yeast rather than the baking soda and yogurt. Make a well in the center of the flour, and add your yeast in the well. Do not add any baking soda or yogurt. Set to dough setting.

Meanwhile, making pesto:
  • 2 c spinach (I used frozen but fresh will work better)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, more as necessary
  • 1 tbsp garlic, or to taste
  • Italian seasoning, to taste
  • basil, to taste

Combine all ingredients in Ninja or food processor. Add more olive oil as necessary until pesto is the desired consistency. Feel free to play around with different spices according to your tastes.

Made with homemade, yeast-free pizza dough and homemade pesto, this warm, cheesy calzone is sure to make your mouth water. It's time consuming, but well worth the wait.

Putting it all together:
  • pizza dough (recipe above)
  • pesto (recipe above)
  • desired toppings (I used) :
    • pepperoni
    • mushrooms, sliced
    • bell pepper, sliced
    • mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 300.

Roll out pizza dough to about 1/4 – 1/2 an inch thick. You want it thin, but not thin enough to tear. My dough was very elastic, so it was more difficult to roll out.

Spread a large portion of pesto on the dough. It may seem like overkill, but with all of the toppings it isn’t a very strong flavor. Add your toppings to half of the dough, avoiding getting too close to the edges. Make sure to use a lot of toppings, so that you get plenty in each bite. You don’t want to do all of this work and only get crust in your calzone! Fold over the side of the dough with no toppings, and crimp the edges.

Spray or brush with olive oil and season the crust as desired. We sprinkled ours with garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hr 30 min. If you made yours small, they won’t take as long. I made ours very large. Check on them after 30 min. I flipped ours over using a metal spatula after 1 hr, then baked them for the last 30 min.

Enjoy!

 

The Life Anti-Psychotic Medicines Stole From Me

Due to moving, insurance problems, and being irresponsible, I have been off my anti-psychotic medicines for over a month now. It’s amazing how much a month can change. There are things anti-psychotics stole from me that I didn’t even realize were due to meds. It was a slow transition – for about two months before I went off my medicines, I reduced myself to a half dosage. I knew I would probably run out before finding another doctor and getting everything set-up … I did not anticipate it taking this long.

Sometimes you don't realize how much you've lost until you have it back. After a month off anti-psychotic medicines, is it time to say goodbye to the life I now have back?

 

Give & Take:

I have parts of my life back, now that I’m off my medicine, that I had given up on. Unfortunately, there are also losses, things I no longer can control. Everything is give or take, it seems – so here I am after midnight, mourning the loss of the life I just got back. I can’t keep this life, you see. Without anti-psychotic medicines, I am unpredictable. I have a tendency to self-harm, and be fairly aggressive (mostly verbally). Without medicines stabilizing me, I tend to hurt those I love most. I isolate myself, and burrow into a pit that I cannot get out of.

Anti-psychotics & Weight:

The reasons that anti-psychotic medicines are a must do not soften the blow of their theft from me at all. When I’m on anti-psychotic medicines, the scale is terrifying. People tell me to diet, to exercise, to work harder to lose the weight. What they don’t understand is that I am. I’ve tried restricting calories, exercising like crazy. Avoiding carbs, not eating sweets, walking, running, lifting weights – the number on the scale only rises. In three months, though – two with a half dose and one with no medicine at all – I have lost 19 lbs. I am not exercising hardly at all. Not even walking (shame on me, I know). No dieting, either. I am eating full-carb sandwiches multiple times a week, and enjoying chocolate and candy regularly. Somehow, the number on the scale is still dropping. It’s a huge contrast – hardly any effort while NOT on anti-psychotics, and I’ve gone down a whole pant size. When I’m ON anti-psychotics, my pant size goes up just as fast as the number on the scale – despite my frantic efforts.

At this point, people are probably thinking, it’s just weight – it’s not that big of a deal. Body acceptance, and all of that. Isn’t it a big deal, though? We are shamed for being overweight in so many ways. People regularly ask me if I am pregnant (my weight tends to go to my stomach, and I am a young, married female). We see models in t.v. ads and magazines that are slim and fit – everything we want to be. More than that – I want to look in the mirror and like what I see. I want to feel attractive for my husband (he thinks I’m attractive this way, but it’s hard to believe when I hate my reflection so much). Wearing the clothes I want to, without worrying that they are unflattering would be so wonderful, too!

Anti-Psychotics Stole More Than (a low) Weight:

We are discussing a life stolen here, however – not just horrendous weight gain. I was in my late teens before starting on anti-psychotic medicines. Spending all day reading a book was extremely common for me. Anti-psychotic medicines took that away from me so slowly that I didn’t even realize why I couldn’t read anymore. I went from reading at every opportunity to being unable to focus on the words on the page – rarely reading anything. From finishing at least a book a week to being lucky to finish a book a month. To constantly checking out library books (at least five at a time!) to not even knowing who the librarian was, because I hadn’t been in such a long time.

From a reading perspective, this medicine-free month has been amazing. I’m reading books I have been wanting to read for years, but haven’t been able to focus on. I’m living in the books again, becoming the characters, living their lives – instead of finishing the book feeling unsatisfied and unimpressed.

Mourn but Accept the Loss:

Those two factors alone, weight loss and reading, crush me with the thought that I have to give them up when I go back on anti-psychotic medicines. Staying off anti-psychotic medicines isn’t an option, though. If ever I were to hurt my husband because I refused to take my medicine and lost myself to a psychotic state, I could not forgive myself.

Even if I did not ever become violent off-meds, I cannot stand myself untreated. My thoughts are much harsher, and so are my words. I am much more impulsive, much more likely to spit out words that invisibly wound.

Hating Myself – Choosing The Lesser of Two Evils:

Maybe it all comes down to why I hate myself, then – off-medicine, I hate myself because I am a despicable human being. My thoughts are not anything like the person I want to be. I hate how I treat people, especially the people I claim to love. On-medicine, I am fat. I hate my body for being unattractive, and I hate that I cannot do the things I love to do anymore.

Anti-psychotic medicines stole my passion for reading from me. They stole my size-0 jeans, and my slim body. I hate them for the things they stole from me, the life they stole from me. With anti-psychotic medicines, I am almost unrecognizable as the same person I was before treatment.

Despite the losses, though, anti-psychotic medicines gave me the person I wanted to be. That person didn’t look the way I wanted her to look, she didn’t do the things I wanted her to do – but she was kind. She didn’t think harsh thoughts about everyone and everything. She didn’t try to wound everyone with her words when she was wounded.

 

Anti-psychotic medicines stole my life from me.

Meanwhile, they helped me become the person I always wanted to be.

Friends: Thanksgiving Gratefuls

Mental illnesses can be a lonely road. We are often surrounded by people who don’t understand, by people that want to believe we are ‘normal’. Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? Families get together, and friends might throw a party or have a nice meal.

Even when everything is going wrong, there is usually something to be grateful for. Since I had a long list, I narrowed it down to one thing in particular to share with all of you.

No Pressure: YOU Decide

Major holidays like Thanksgiving can be devastating for the mentally ill. Sometimes, the people who should understand better than anyone – they grew up with us! They raised us! – understand the least of all. It is not uncommon for people with mental illnesses to be estranged from family members. Remember, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a gathering with your family. You can join your friends with one of their families, or have a celebration of your own with friends. You can even volunteer at a Thanksgiving celebration hosted for the homeless or needy. We all have different paths to walk, different lives that we’ve led. Don’t feel shamed into spending Thanksgiving alone if you don’t want to – and don’t feel forced into being around people on Thanksgiving if you don’t want to. 

Gratefuls:

Soon (if it isn’t already), the internet will be buzzing with everything people are grateful for. Thanksgiving is about being thankful, after all. I have a long list of gratefuls, so I will share only one (for now):

friends.

As a person who is not very social, I have very few friends. I can count them on one hand, with fingers left over. That’s not the important part, though. The important part is that I have friends who are willing to be there when I need them. When they need me, I return the favor.

One In Particular:

Fortunately, one of my friends works nights – which means that even when he isn’t at work, he’s awake at crazy hours. I can text him at one a.m., and he will answer – even if it’s a ridiculous reason.

He doesn’t know why I text him at odd hours – but it’s okay. There doesn’t need to be a reason discussed. (Although he knows I have a mental illness, sometimes it’s nice to pretend that everything is normal. There is no reason to tell him every time I hallucinate.) He doesn’t know that I texted him at one in the morning last night because there were people surrounding me in the dark room. That I was texting him for a distraction while waiting for my sleep aid to kick in and make me sleepy enough to ignore what I saw around me. It’s okay, though.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for people who we call friends. People who we can text at one in the morning when we’re scared to death, and people we can hang out with and watch a movie. There are so many good friends out there, and this is my shoutout to them.

Do you have friends you can rely on, that know your struggles and are still there for you? Give them a shoutout!