Last year, at a Christmas party, I won this large silicone ice cube tray in a gift swap:

What was I going to do with huge ice cubes?

What was I going to do with huge ice cubes?

True, it was a gift, but it sat around for a while, unused. Until just over a month ago, when I started making coconut oil chocolates!

Now, depending on who you ask, coconut oil may have many health benefits, some health benefits, or none at all. This Huffington Post article about coconut oil sums it up quite nicely, saying that today’s less-refined coconut oil purportedly contains several health benefits as opposed to the older stuff, but that we still should exercise portion control (because calories, after all).

Anyway, coconut oil + cocoa powder (definitely a source of healthy compounds!) + sweetener and other flavoring agents… YUM! Rich, melt-in-your-mouth!

And this has become the use for aforementioned ice tray.

If you have a similar mold:
Try melting about 1/2 c coconut oil. Add 4 tbsp cocoa powder and mix well. Stir in about 1/4 c maple syrup (or other sweetener) or slightly less, to taste. Add your favorite flavoring… during the holidays, I’m going with peppermint oil!

You may need to melt the above mixture again to get it to combine uniformly. Once it is mixed, pour it equally into the compartments of your mold, and freeze until solid! Enjoy in moderation… :)


recent books

17Dec14

Heh, it’s sort of funny for me to write a post about “recent” books I’ve liked. As a college instructor always doing new course development and tweaking current courses on top of managing my health, I check books out of the library and frequently end of returning them after one chapter…

But here’s a round-up of a few books that caught my attention this year, hopefully in time for your holiday travels or days off (and no financial interest on my part–I just liked them!):

The Expats by Chris Pavone. Equal parts spy-novel, thriller, and tongue-in-cheek comedy. This book had me turning pages–it truly was hard to put down!

Taste What You’re Missing by Barb Stuckey–the non-fiction entry of the list. Truly informative for a food and nutrition nerd like me. Chock full of info about why we taste foods the way that we do and why different people have different food preferences. I’ve already started my second read!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion–if some good came out of my emergency May surgery, it’s that I had time to read this wonderful book. Heartfelt, cute characters with a very American “fairytale” ending, but the means of getting there is a fun ride, for the reader. Especially fun if you’re a biologist with a genetics background (like me!) but not a requirement. :)

And finally… the book that I’m finishing up right now, To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal. The writing is just beautiful, talking about relationships among your average American folks and the journeys taken to get there. I’m a sucker for great writing, and this fits the bill.

I’d love to hear anyone else’s suggestions that may match up with my list above–thoughts or ideas? (Best yet, I was able to get all of my list from my local library!)


I am in the middle of a long string of several days of teaching fitness classes… mostly an interval-based indoor cycling format. I used to do things like this all the time… multiple classes a day… and it wasn’t so much MS that took me down, but other illnesses (abdominal tumors, surgeries to deal with that and complications). I feel like it’s taking forever to get my strength back!

But what I used to consider “eh, no problem” is now a challenge, and my legs don’t handle the bike like they used to. (Which is partly why I’m kind of scared to do outdoor cycling anymore… both endurance, and the occasional “world suddenly shifting” that I get.) But when I make it through these four classes (three cycling, one Pilates) I’ll feel a huge victory! Go, me!


These days, I try to leave my students with an inspirational last 10-15 minutes (or so) lecture. Often has to do with a personal story. This time, I didn’t have any personal struggle or tragedy to talk about–which I suppose is good–but the inspiration was more of a challenge. I came up with something in the Nth hour… thanks to a friend.

And I’ve set up another WordPress blog just to archive/curate these lectures–hah! The posts to this new blog will be infrequent.

Last Lecture Fall 2014

I may be using this one again… I think it holds up well. :)


Here’s an article that came out recently:

Can Indazole Chloride Cure MS?

It’s a lot of sciencey-geeky stuff in the article (of which I am one, so let me sum it up)–but bottom line, this compound seems to mimic the effects of estrogen without most of the nasty side-effects–higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women, feminization in men.

According to this article, estrogen has a protective effect on myelin, and may even repair myelin. Interesting, as I thought I’d heard that it was progesterone… ???

Anyway, they’ve gotten it working in rats, so this is still a long way out. As I recall, there are a few other things in the pipeline that the Myelin Repair Foundation might have going?


living abroad

05Dec14

There are a lot of expat bloggers that I’ve read…

But have any of them had MS? Or a chronic disease that has to be monitored regularly?

I’ve put a lot of thinking time into how to do something like this. I’ve traveled a lot, I’m growing weary of the introversion (and elitism…) of Seattle, and it’s time to jump somewhere. Why waste time–why not jump overseas soon?

Of course, there are the health logistics. But in thinking about it, the drugs might be cheaper not in the US (but… who knows about quality? need to put more research into that). The main point that I’m looking into is getting an annual (or however often) MRI, since I might not get health insurance where I am.

If anyone can chime in on this, I’m willing to listen… thoughts?


Have any of the rest of you in the MS (or other chronic disease) world had problems scheduling appointments with practitioners, because it’s assumed that “with your condition” you’re not working?

(I’m the one in our relationship with the more stable employment…)

My MS specialist/clinic is wonderful. They’re great at working with my work schedule. But there have been several other places that only work with neuro disorder patients that don’t seem to understand when I tell them that I don’t have a longer chunk of time available, or that it’s hard for me to take a day off, or that I can’t be in a waiting room several hours because I planned a 9am appointment to work around teaching a 12pm class.

I’ve had to postpone my initial dose of Gilenya (the new MS drug I’m trying) because the initial dose requires monitoring in a medical office (for side effects) for 6+ hours after I take it. It was initially thought that I could go to a clinic that’s open on Saturdays, but that’s not the case–it has to be done between 8am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. My fall quarter classes center around noon, so that’s out of the question until winter quarter… when, luckily, my schedule was arranged to have Mondays off.

But if I hadn’t had the Mondays off… I suppose I would have had to take sick leave? (And I would have “played sick”, since I’m still not “out” at work.)

Hopefully this is the only time I’ll have to deal with needing a full day off…




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