Monday, August 23, 2010

Soap Nuts, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Have you guys heard of soap nuts? They are actually the berries of the sapindus tree and contain naturally occuring saponin- basically soap that has many uses, including as laundry detergent.

I recently bought a sample from NaturOli for $1.95, plus $1.84 shipping on Amazon. To wash, you toss the linen sack with a five or so nuts into your wash and let the washer do its thang. You can reuse the nuts several times, so my sample pack is good for about 5 washes.

I chose NaturOli because they got the most positive reviews on Amazon. Most of them noted fabrics that were soft and required no softeners in the washing/drying process. My experience with these nuts is a little different. My clothes came out clean, with no scent (NaturOli notes you can add a few drops of your essential oil of choice to scent laundry), however the softness of my fabric did not seem to change. I may have not noticed anything due to the fact that I already use "environmentally friendly" laundry detergent, made by CostCo. It is basically the store brand of Seventh Generation detergent, also available at my CostCo.

Would I continue to use soap nuts? I think soap nuts are a great alternative to many common detergents that contain harsh chemicals. However, even if bought in bulk, the price of soap nuts does not compete with the price of my CostCo detergent. As of right now, I'll be sticking with the liquid detergent.

I do know the Kirkland Signature brand contains sodium lauryl sulfate, so that may sway me as I learn more about the ingredient in the future. This is my understanding right now: SLS is a skin irritant, but is not a carcinogen. Unfortunately, carcinogens are associated with SLS due to its production process- if done wrong, the carcinogens are produced and included with SLS in the products. I would love to hear any information you guys have regarding this issue. Thanks!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mexican Dinner Party, Hai Ky & Outback, My New Apartment

Navid's birthday was this week, so to honor it a few friends and I hosted a small dinner party. I was really nervous that the food wouldn't turn out very well, but everything tasted great. The menu included chicken enchiladas, bean and cheese enchiladas, Spanish rice, Mexican inspired romaine salad, vegetarian crunchy tacos, fresh guacamole, and bean and corn salsa. And of course everyone sipped on some margaritas. Except for me.

I was so exhausted from making the food (there was a lot) that I forgot to take pictures of the food! Not to mention people started chowing down right as it came out the kitchen. Here are some pics I did manage to get.


With the birthday boy

Some of them got him Disaronno. It was the perfect gift.


I have found my new favorite Vietnamese place. It is called Hai Ky and it is nestled in the corner of Guadalupe and MLK, right next to campus.

This heaping bowl of fresh ingredients was their chicken bun. I usually always order beef bun, but chicken is not only healthier for me and the environment, but also just as delicious as well. I love that they gave a generous portion of peanuts, rather than let it serve as only a garnish. Hai Ky is actually two stores down from another pho place I've been to, but the quality and taste are 100 times better (literally, read the reviews in the link). The cucumber was something I've never seen before in bun and gave it some great crunchy texture. I've only had bun so good at Kim Phung up North, but subsequent visits there showed me their greatness isn't always consistent. I hope the same is not true for Hai Ky!

While I've been trying to lay low on the eating out, I had to go to Outback to visit my favorite server and best friend. Shout out to Jessa! She supplied me with the greasiest (french fries with cheese), tastiest food (shrimp), delectable drinks (raspberry tea), and mouthwatering desserts (carrot cake). Yum!


So I've been talking about getting apartment since I revived this blog. As of now, I am all moved into a place and living the life. Here are some "before" pictures, since I am planning on doing a few improvements to the place, as well as some organizing (please excuse the mess!)

The dining room

The kitchen

The living room (yes that is a microwave on the floor)

Built in desk

The bedroom. I don't have internet yet, so Navid and I are mooching off the school. Unfortunately the only place it works is right here on the bed.

As you can see, my place is kind of small. It's about 400 sq ft. I think it's the perfect size for one. My place is definitely older than many of the student apartments around here, which boast stone countertops, laminate wood flooring, and other gizmos like updated blinds. Those things are nice, and I definitely wouldn't mind having them, but I honestly don't mind my set up.

It's all mine.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

IBD Update, Ginger Tea, Nutrition

Hey, guys. I have some great news. But first, an update.

In my last post, I discussed being diagnosed with IBD. I'm now on Mesalamine, an anti-inflammatory drug, and seemed to get immediate results after my first dose. Within one day, I no longer was in pain and didn't feel like I had to rush to the bathroom 10 times a day. Because I felt so much better, I indulged myself in Short Stop fried chicken tenders and Wendy's bacon deluxes... and now I'm almost back to where I started. Anything high in animal fat, processed sugar, or irritating like alcohol or caffeine can trigger my IBD, giving me pain and all the other fun that comes with a flare up. I definitely need to follow a strict diet or I will suffer from the consequences. I've found that it's not hard to refuse alcohol at a party. There is usually at least one other person not drinking, and no one puts on any pressure. Avoiding beef is not hard either. I just order chicken instead when I go out to eat. I have been meaning to stop eating red meat, anyway. Only time can tell how long I'll avoid coffee...

My mom has made me a big pot of ginger tea to drink. She say's it is supposed to help with digestion and inflammation. I feel so fancy drinking it out of this dainty, gold-rimmed glass. The good thing is that with the addition of a small spoon of sugar, I feel like I'm drinking ginger candy! I can definitely see myself drinking this in the future. Iced ginger tea, perhaps? I AM in Texas.

Now for my great news.

I am officially a Nutrition major!!!
It turns out it's really easy to switch, even for students with my type of financial aid. I start school 3 days and now I'm scrambling to sign up for all my new classes. But I couldn't be happier.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


My second gastroenterologist appointment was yesterday. I had a certain procedure done that involved me donning a hospital gown. I was VERY aware of the fact I wasn't wearing any underwear.

The test results gave me happiness at first, but now I'm just sad.

For one, I am relieved to finally know what is wrong with me. I have been battling this sickness for months now. I can start medication and go from there in my healing process.

Unfortunately, what I have is a disease. It will never go away. I will have to restrict my diet for the rest of my life. I will probably be on medication for the rest of my life (unless I am able to find an effective alternative treatment. Google searches render conflicting results). If I eat the wrong thing, I will be battling these painful and annoying symptoms all over again.

I am going to see my doctor again after I start medication. I am kind of fed up with him. I feel like I can never accurately explain my point or question before he starts talking. If I don't feel like all my questions have been addressed at this next appointment, I am going to see a new doctor.

Anyway, I have an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It's called ulcerative colitis (UC). According to my doctor, it is an autoimmune disorder that causes my immune system to attack my intestines. The result is an inflamed and ulcerated colon. As you can imagine, this leaves me with all sorts of fun digestive issues.

I want to be able to eat anything. I've been striving for a healthier lifestyle anyway, but it's nice to be able to kickback and treat myself once in a while. I'm not gonna be able to do that anymore. From here on it's a strict diet. Even fruit might not be good for me because of their simple sugars. Sigh.

Hopefully I'll move on to a phase of acceptance, but right now I'm in utter despair.

Have you ever dealt with IBD, IBS, celiac disease, food intolerance, or food allergy? I know there are many, and I follow a few gluten free blogs... But I never thought that would be me.. you know? :(

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm a Libra, Snowballs

I don't usually get too bent up about horoscopes and things like that. I can read a description for any sign and feel like some of it pertains to me. It is fun to see what they say and they can be a great source of inspiration and motivation, but I never plan anything around a horoscope.

However, there is one Libra trait that fits me 100%. Libras are indecisive.

I went through high school not sure what to study in college, whilst friends around me were already taking classes related to what they wanted to major in. My problem was too many choices. I'm interested in everything! I love art, food, music, math, history.... maybe not everything. I enjoyed studying for english but hell no was I studying it for another 4 years.
During my freshman year I had a hard time deciding what to do, I was undeclared. Even now, I've only decided to study for business because many people I know are taking business. But I felt unease in my heart.

I think I've finally come to a decision. I love food! Why not study nutrition? I can help others choose a healthy lifestyle. There are many career paths for a dietitian. Maybe someday I can work in the government for the USDA or FDA. As much as I'm frustrated with the government in many ways, I actually want to contribute to it. That's another story though.

I finally feel like this is something I want to do.

It's going to be hard for me to switch. Class registration is already closed, but there is a small opening right before classes start. Unfortunately I have another complication. I'm receiving financial aid and if I want tuition money, all my classes have to qualify for whatever major I'm in. If I switch I'd have to re-certify my classes. I might not be able to pay tuition on time.

I have to call my certification counselor tomorrow. Wish me luck.


Today I tried Casey's New Orlean's Snowballs.

One late night watching Food Network, I caught an episode of Kid in a Candy Store, hosted by the handsome Adam Gertler. The show is kind of like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, but only features sweet treats. Ths episode showcased a New Orlean's snowball shop and I was drooling in seconds. Snowballs are different than snowcones because the ice is shaved, not crushed. As you might have guessed already, snowballs were invented in New Orleans.

When I drove by Casey's last week, I knew I had to stop by. Today I had an opportune moment with my little brother in tow. I ordered a small with black cherry (my choice) and cola (my brothers) with some sweet condensed milk on top. The total was $2.50, a moderate price for the whopping amount I got. And boy was it DELICIOUS. The condensed milk mixed together to create this creamy, heavenly experience on my tongue.

I can't compare it to any other snowcones or balls because I haven't had any in years, but if I'm ever in the area I'll be sure to stop by again. Yum!

You can read their Yelp page here.