Author Archives: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.

Books #39

I’ve read some pretty good books lately. Here is the latest installment:

1 ) The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The whole time I was reading this book, I wondered if it was made into a movie. It felt like it and after I finished I looked it up and apparently it was!. It reads so quick and beautifully and you are immediately transported to 1964 South Carolina. The racism, the segregation, the heat of the south, the taste of fresh honey, the bonds of friendship. The book is beautiful and emotional.

Lily is 14 years old, raised by her sort of abusive (verbally) and definitely distant and neglectful father and Rosaleen, her black sort of nanny/stand-in mother on a peach farm. When blacks get the right to vote, Lily goes with Rosaleen to the nearby town to register when they are harassed by racist assholes and both of the ladies end up in jail. Lily’s dad bails her out but leaves Rosaleen in jail (where she ends up getting beaten almost to death by the racist assholes). So Lily decides to run away from her father and the peach farm and the secrets surrounding her mother’s death, breaks Rosaleen out of the hospital and the two of them run away.

They find themselves finding refuge on a honey farm where they make friends with the African American ladies who live there and their lives are forever changed. The book is fantastic and I loved the story and all the characters!

2 )  The Hunger by Alma Katsu

What a CREEPY and good book! It was absolutely riveting. Maybe because I grew up in the 80s playing the Oregon Trail video game. Maybe because I grew up in the northwest, fascinated by the Oregon Trail? I don’t know, but this book was absolutely fascinating.

It was a “re-imagining” of the Donner Party story. Think the Donner Party/Oregon trail wagon story with a horror/supernatural twist. Something dark and evil is following the wagon trail. The pioneers don’t see it but they can sense it and as time is running out before they can cross over the pass before they run out of food, water and summer weather people on the wagon trail are dying. Or going insane. It was super creepy and well written and I read it one day!

 

3 ) Talk to Me by John Kenney

Ted Grayson is a 59 year old TV news anchor. He’s been popular for 20 years. Think Brokaw, Dan Rather, Brian Williams. But one night before his broadcast, he has a very public meltdown that someone records with their phone. It goes viral and that starts the downfall of Ted’s career. Suddenly the masses are out to get him. His fall from grace is fast, furious and painful.

The book is about a man’s fall from grace. But it’s also a commentary on the cancel culture of our current times. The blood-thirsty social media that is apparently more powerful than corporations. It doesn’t seem to matter that someone had a shining 20+ year career with high ratings and Emmy’s — the TV execs just care about the comments on social media. So Ted gets the ax. It really is a sad commentary on how gross our culture is now. No one has a path to redemption–one mistake and you are OUT.

 

4 ) Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon is 14 years old and autistic. When she was 9 years old she was taken away from her drug addicted, abusive and neglectful mother and put in foster care. She is now with her fourth family, her “Forever Family”. She’s in therapy and learning how to be attached. She’s in the Special Olympics and has friends at school. She has to eat exactly 9 grapes with breakfast. She’s obsessed with approximate time, takes everything literally and loves Michael Jackson.

But she’s obsessed with how she left her Baby Doll behind with her mother when she was taken away. No one can get her to let it go. She has a one-track mind about her Baby Doll. The story unfolds, told from Ginny’s child-like point of view. She is determined to escape from her Forever Family and return to her mother to rescue her Baby Doll.

Ginny has a lot of set backs in her journey of both learning how to manage her autism and her emotions and how to be reunited with her Baby Doll. But she definitely shows some growth by the end of the book. It’s a heartwarming, heartbreaking look at autism and the challenges the kids and parents face.

 

5 ) The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

This was an excellent, poignant, emotional book! I highly recommend it!

It’s a story about the Butler Family. Althea, the eldest of the Butler family, and her husband Proctor were pillars of the community. They raised money to help victims of a flood. They ran a local restaurant. But then it comes out that they were stealing the money they raised and stealing food stamps to help keep their restaurant afloat in the dying town. There’s a trial and they get sentenced to federal prison, leaving behind their teenage twin daughters.

Althea’s sister Lillian takes the twins. But the twins are struggling because they are pariahs in the town and subject to abuse by the townspeople. Lillian doesn’t know how to help them so she calls her other sister, Viola, to come help.

There are a lot of big issues in this book: what happens when family goes to prison, anorexia and bulimia, abuse, grief, how to break old cycles and healing. The author does an amazing job slowly revealing the story in layers and showing the humanity of this family.

6 ) The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny by Michael Wallis

After reading “The Hunger” (fictional story about the Donner Party), I was curious and had questions so I looked around at what non-fiction was out there and this new-ish book was highly rated.

“The entwining of religion with the ideology of Manifest Destiny served as a creation myth for the country. It soon became so ingrained in the national consciousness that many Americans still accept it to this day. The belief that God intended for the continent to be under the control of Christian European-Americans became official U.S. government policy.

“It helped to fuel incentive to take the land from those who were considered inferior to white Americans—indigenous tribal people characterized as savages and Mexicans…”

Why I liked the book: because I am forever fascinated by the history of the pioneers and Lewis & Clark and people making that journey out west. My ancestors made that journey from Minnesota to Oregon (my grandma’s family settled in Bend, Oregon and built a ranch in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s) and I love reading about the hardships, the pilgrimage, what they overcame to make a new life.

“The America they were leaving behind was a nation of some 20 million people, including Indians and others held in bondage as slaves.”

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was almost part of the Donner Party? He changed his mind at the last minute. But his wife’s nephew was part of a pilgrimage that went west right before the Donner Party.

The first 20% of the book was dry, slightly boring, and a lot of background–the details and history of all the people in the Donner-Reed Party. There were actually a lot of different families and hired hands on the trip in 1846 that made that journey to pursue the “American Dream.” So if you can get past the first part of the book that is a bit slow, it gets pretty good.

The story really gets enthralling once they leave Fort Bridger, Wyoming. This is where shit gets real and things start falling apart. There are illnesses, deaths, injuries, in-fighting, bad advice, running out of supplies, starvation, a war with Mexico, curious Native Americans…the list is endless.

“The Donner Party’s collective dream, however, tragically morphed into a collective nightmare. Poor timing, terrible advice, and even worse weather meant that only about half of those who started the journey reached their final destination.”

The guide they were supposed to meet up with (Hastings) turned out to be a con-artist. Trail tradition held that wagon trains had to reach Independence Rock by the Fourth of July if they wanted to arrive safely in California and Oregon before winter. This did not happen. They were behind schedule.

The Donner-Reed party eventually splintered. Some decided to go to Oregon, some decided to go to California. The short cut that they decided to take turned out to be a bad idea.

“It did take almost a week for all the members of the wagon train to reach Pilot Peak and partake of the refreshing water from a spring that would one day be renamed for the Donners. All the emigrants survived the hellish days and nights in the desert, including the newborn Keseberg baby, but many oxen, cattle, and horses were dead or missing. Reed lost eighteen animals, and other members of the company could not account for twenty more.”

The splintered groups both ended up getting stranded in the snow, maybe 6-10 miles apart from each other. Some found some shanty cabins that they hunkered down in. The Donner Party was forced to camp out in their wagons and tents in the horrific snow storms. After weeks of this weather, starving, some of the more able-bodied people decided to build snowshoes and try to hike out of the canyon to get help.

This is where I will end the descriptions. If you know even the littlest bit of the history, you know what happens next and it’s not easy to read about. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. And very real.

“The children of the Donner Party never forgot what it was like trying to survive in their prisons made of snow. They had no interest ever again in snowball fights, building snowmen, or riding in a horse-drawn sleigh beneath a winter moon. For them, freshly fallen snow was no longer beautiful.”

After you get through the first part of the book, the rest of the story is so enthralling, heart-breaking and shocking, you cannot put it down. The author does a very good job painting the picture of what it was like for those people that were stranded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, freezing and starving. He described in detail what happened to the body and the mind. It was truly sad.

I’m glad I read this historical book about what happened. I think reading the fictional story first was good and then reading the actual account (with letters, diaries and other things from the people in the parties) helped fill in the gaps.

Happy Reading!

These posts have Amazon affiliate links.

Keto Reader Questions

Reader Questions

I’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments and I wanted to address some of them here. I also wanted to share a few products I found (Amazon affiliate links) that I’ve liked so far! But first, on to the FAQ:

Cheat Days

One question I get is do I have cheat days? My answer is no. Not so far, anyways. I am planning on having a “cheat day” in a few weeks for Logan’s birthday. We are having pizza and cake. But other than that I am not having cheat days. Since February 1st when I started this diet I have been on the plan. I’ve had a few bites here and there of things that were not “on plan” but no cheat days. I don’t want to get out of ketosis. I don’t know if that one bite of Logan’s banana or a few M&M’s I had in a month and a half were enough to knock me out of ketosis, but I hope not!

I don’t think cheat days are necessarily the right route to take in the initial phases of Keto. I think once you lose the weight, or get to whatever goal you want to get to, making a modified Keto schedule is a good plan. Maybe planning a cheat day or cheat meal is a good thing. Or having a carb cycling schedule….something. That’s something I plan on doing once I get to my goal. We’ll see.

Alcohol

The biggest question/comment I’ve gotten is that people are curious about keto and want to give it a try but they don’t want to give up their weekend glass of wine! I was totally in the same boat. About 8 months ago, I decided on a strict no-alcohol during the week rule and went back to my old “only on the weekend” treat rule. It’s easy for the “creep” to start and before you know it, you have a glass on a Tuesday night without even thinking about it.

But I was wanting to lose the Prozac Weight, and so I went back to my old rule. (And not seeing any weight loss, see previous post about my struggles.) When I decided to try Keto, I was reluctant to COMPLETELY give up my weekend wine. I mean, in my mind I was going back on the super restrictive (aka MISERABLE) low carb diet, and I did NOT want to give up my Friday glass of wine on top of that.

Thankfully, I found out I didn’t have to. Like everything–it just means moderation. And make sure you are choosing a SMART adult beverage. So since starting keto, I’ve restricted my intake to weekends and keeping it to one or two glasses tops (which was my norm before anyways) and I stick with Pinot Noir or a sparkling white or Pinot Blanc. I tend to like super dry/crisp/not sweet wines anyway, so that works for me!

I do kinda miss beer a little bit, but oh well!

Websites

What websites do I use for recipes? I use Instagram a lot of the time. I find recipes on there and then I will use these websites:

Diet Doctor

Cast Iron Keto

Low Carb Yum

Nom Nom Paleo

 

Snacks

Another question I’ve gotten from people are what to have for easy snacks, especially on-the-go snacks or snacks that are easy to take for work, etc. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

Cello Parmesan Whisps – We buy these at Costco. They are an easy and tasty “chip” substitute and low in carbs.

LonoLife Grass-Fed Bone Broth – I’ve tried a few different brands and so far this is by far my favorite! I really like it! It actually tastes really good. One packet is 50 calories, no carbs, 10g of protein. If you buy it on Amazon and do the subscribe and save option, it’s cheaper.

Quest Bars – I’m not a huge fan of processed bars but I tried a few different flavors of the Quest bars and they were actually ok. The good news is that they were under 200 calories for the whole bar and usually around 4 or 5 net carbs. I tend to split the bar in half and have half of it as a snack.

Atkins Bars – Like the Quest Bars, the Atkins Bars are low in net carbs and high in fiber and quick and easy treats/snacks. Depending on which flavor you get, they taste ok. I got the chocolate mint wafer ones and all I could taste was the chemical/fake sugar flavor. But the caramel chewy one was really delicious. So experiment and see which ones you like.

Nuts – I buy these at Trader Joes. They are the best priced. I buy the roasted/salted sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts and the raw walnuts. Those are my go-to nuts for snacks. I usually eat 1/2 a serving of whatever the package says with some cheese as my snack.

Cheese – Cheese sticks are a great snack (and paired with nuts are great!). It’s nice to have some variety, too. So Michael gets the Babybel rounds at Costco and then I buy different flavored cheese sticks at the grocery store (currently going through a habanero phase).

Plain Greek Yogurt with Berries and Flaxseed – I use the Fage Full Fat and add some frozen raspberries and 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseed. It’s delicious, high in fat and high in fiber! This snack is great pre-workout because it’s a little bit higher in carbs than my other snacks.

Keto Bark – Holy crap is this delicious!!! I gave it a try and got it on Amazon in a two pack. It is so good! Individually wrapped, which is nice. 120 calories, 10g of Fat, 2g of net carbs…the perfect snack or dessert if you are watching carbs. And it actually tastes SO good!

Other Finds

Liquid Stevia– I wanted to give this a try because the regular Stevia packets has some carbs in it but this liquid version doesn’t have any carbs in it. Plus I thought it would be easier to use liquid stevia in cooking some keto recipes I’ve found that I want to try.

Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel Vanilla Coconut – I got this to try in my coffee. I was interested in seeing if it was a good alternative to putting stevia in my coffee. I liked that it was in individual packets so I could take it to work easily. It mixed well, but I did notice that some of it did settle to the bottom of my coffee cup so that last sip was a little gross in texture.

The flavor was really nice. I tasted mostly vanilla, not so much the coconut. I made my coffee with the collagen packet and some heavy cream.

If you have any other tips or questions, please leave a comment! Thanks!