Annual Jeep Post 2017

So here’s the annual Jeep post. I realize this really isn’t interesting to anyone but other Wrangler owners, but it’s useful to me for tracking changes I’ve made.

This year, the doors and top came off in early May. May 7th to be specific, as May 8th she had a date with a man in Dundalk for a few days to get spray on bedliner. I chose to get the RhinoLiner TuffGrip, and Four Sons Automotive in Dundalk is the only place in the state that does it. If I had wanted some of the other liners Rhino offers I could have gone to Frederick or Bowie, but if you want TuffGrip, you gotta go to Dundalk. It was very windy and breezy driving across Key Bridge at 8:00 AM on a Monday morning in early May in a stripped down Jeep. And it was both windy and full on raining during the trip back home a few days later. It was worth it.

The one thing I’d say is notable about switching over to liner instead of carpet is that the carpet is very heat and noise insulating, so your road noise level is going to go up a bit, and if you are taking longer trips, the floorboard is going to get pretty warm on you. Road noise never really bothers me, but the floor heat on an already hot day when you have the doors on can be a little toasty.

I’d been wanting to strip out the carpet and get spray on the bedliner for a few years now, because nothing smells worse than wet carpet in a car and I don’t want to deal with that. We’ve had the liner for almost 6 months now, and shmoo and I are both pleased with how it looks, wears, and the overall change.

Other changes I made this year were to not use a bed cover for the summer as I had previously and put the rear seat back in and then use a strap cage underneath the Safari top I use in the summer. This created a “safe” area to throw my stuff for going to and from work and allowed me to have an additional passenger it if was needed. I guess technically it would be 2 additional passengers but I never needed to cart 3 other people around at any point this summer. Overall, the strap/top combo gave a shaded cosy area that someone could sit in and wear a seat belt, so it wasn’t the worst place to sit, but if you are tall you would not have liked it. Having the backseat in also cut into available cargo room, but generally just folding/flipping it up would give us enough to get by with.

The foot pegs were used again this year as well. And I have to say, for such a small easy change to make, they are more than worth it. My left foot is noticably a few shades darker than the right one I used it so much.

We put the doors on for good this year on Saturday, and I gotta say, May 7-Sept 30 is a pretty good run for no doors. There is one exception to this where I had them on for about a week during that time, but as soon as I could, I took them right back off. The top goes back on this weekend, because it’s certainly time. It’s cooled off quite a bit and all the wind that feels great in the 80s and 90s is a little biting and chill in the 50s and 60s. I’ve held off as long as is reasonable, but I have to admit defeat to the change of season now.

I am pretty happy with the way things are now, and really enjoyed driving the Jeep all summer. Next year’s currently planned changes are to have some body work repairs done where the hood has been dented from a branch falling on it and some scratches on the sides above the rear wheels that go through the clear coat and down into the paint. I’ve hit the point where I’m very satisfied with what I’ve got, even though shmoo keeps demanding we get a snorkel,(You know, for reasons!) so now I want to focus on maintaining what I have and keeping it good shape.

In the meantime, I’m working on knitting up a steering wheel cover out of this because I think it will match quite well once it’s done!

Pseudopod Reading: Granite Requires

My latest voice work for Escape Artists has been published.

PseudoPod 559: Granite Requires by T.J. Berry.

This is the 9th time I’ve read for Escape Artists, and the 5th time for PseudoPod specifically.
Early feedback on this has been very enthusiastic so I am guessing I did a good job. I recorded it at the same time I did “Bring The Moon To Me” which was released back in April, but then did the edit/clean up later on. (Turns out our computer room has a different sound to it with the different seasons, so that made drop in edits interesting.) This story was easily the longest one I’ve recorded but I could hear her speak so clearly in my head when I read it that I knew it’d be a pretty good fit.

Plated Weeks 31-35

Week 31

Crispy Tilapia with Gazpacho Sauce and Summer Salad
I don’t like fish but as far as fish go, I’d eat this one again. Possibly even up to once a month. I wouldn’t LOVE it, but I’d eat it. The Gazpacho sauce I ended up doctoring a bit with some garlic and red wine vinegar and green hot sauce because it was so bland, but over all a decent dish.

Farfalle with Brocoli and Italian Sausage
This was good but very similar to the Orrechette dish we’ve made several times since we first had it. I liked the change up of broccoli for the peas, and the different noodle shape, but very similar dish. So good, but we figured that it was going in.

Week 32

Pork Meatball Bahn Mi with Shallow Jam and Sriracha Mayo
This was good but not AMAZING like I was hoping it would be. We came away thinking it was a good sandwich but that’s about it. I didn’t feel like I had learned how to make a proper Bahn Mi from this and I already knew how to make a meatball sandwich.

Grilled Vegetable Gyros with Yogurt Feta Sauce
We picked this because it was all grilled Veg, and while it was not suck, it’s not really something we’d seek to make again. Yogurt Feta sauce is no substitute for an actual tzatkiki. I’d have preferred a yogurt sauce with herbs and have the feta crumbled on the veggies at the end. Also, mushrooms, so that was a stike against it for me anyway. I keep trying, but I keep not liking them.

Week 33

Jerk Chicken with Coconut Rice and Summer Vegetables
We liked this. They had you cook the rice in coconut milk and that helped give it some flavor and added creaminess. I still don’t care for whatever rice it is they use, as it always cooks up oddly but the coconut milk trick is something I could see using next time I do us up a green curry. The Jerk seasoning was a premade mix, so no thoughts on it really other than it tasted like Jerk seasoning.

Chicken Shawarma Salad with Lemon-Honey Dressing and Creamy Tahini
OK so, not shawrma in my opinion. at. all. But! The Tahini sauce was nice. Basically this was a Middle Eastern flavored salad, and it was good, but not amazing, that tahini though…

Week 34

Hoisin Pork Tacos with Miso Corn and Cabbage Cilantro Slaw
This was good. I think the flavors could have been a little stronger in the meat and corn but over all tasty. Shmoo’s coworkers really REALLY liked this one and made it a day or two before us, so our expectations were pretty high. We were not as impressed, but it was good.

Gnocchi Pomodoro with Summer Squash, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella
Shmoo really liked this but I figured he would because he likes gnocchi quite a bit. This had flavor and was good. It’s not going to be a go to recipe for us, but I could see making it again once squash is back in season next year because shmoo loved it.

Week 35

Pork Egg Rolls with Crunch Slaw and Sweet and Sour Duck Sauce
This was pretty good. We were shorted one egg roll wrapper so there was extra filling and I didn’t bother to report that so I can’t tell you how customer service would have handled it. I liked this recipe because I learned to make duck sauce, and they were pretty good egg rolls. I would have liked to maybe have seen the cabbage slaw in the egg roll as well and not on the side though.

Lamb Shakshuka with Parsley Rice and Pistachios
This is our second Shakshuka from plated, but different than the first because of the lamb and pistachios. Also the starch for this one was the rice and not pita breads. Otherwise it was basically the same. Plated did their normal deal with lamb so what you get is a mix of ground beef and lamb that you cook up loosely, but it added a different flavor to the dish and the pistachios were an interesting texture in the rice. Personally, I’ve been doing a variation on this with stew beef instead of ground, but I like the idea of adding some nuts to the rice for flavor and texture.

Plated week 30

Chicken Samosas with Cucumber Raita Salad

This was tasty. Well, the Samosas were tasty. But I also kinda of cheated on them. The Tikka Masala curry paste did not turn the ground chicken as red as it appeared in the example photo on the recipe card, and it tasted a bit bland, so I threw in a rough tablespoon’s worth of Tandoori seasoning to help that out. The recipe used empanada dough for the samosas, then they were fried up on the stove top. As for the raita salad, eh, we weren’t fans. It wasn’t seasoned well and the consistancy was weird. The yogurt they sent was low fat so when that bit of dairy was combined with the lemon juice, it just didn’t blend up well enough in my opinion. The yogurt was already super runny and since citrus curdles dairy, just eh. Also, it just didn’t taste as good as a cucumber relish/sauce I’ve been making for a while now for us anyway, so we were comparing it to that when we ate, and it came up lacking. Shmoo doesn’t care for cucumbers generally, he eats them, but doesn’t seek them out. He recently read (on reddit maybe?) what he feels is the reason he doesn’t like them: The best part of the cucumber tastes like the worst part of a watermelon (the rind). He agrees with that statement whole heartedly. We’d probably do the samosas again with strong seasoning, like vindaloo, and do the cucumber salad the way I normally do it when we are having tacos.

Lamb Meatballs with Israeli Salad and Toasted Pita

This was pretty good, however it wasn’t as good as the Lamb Kabab dish a few weeks ago, so it’s not something we’d make, we’d just have that dish instead, because it’s very similar. The green tahini sauce wasn’t as good as the mint sauce in the other dish, but I could see using it. This was the best version of an Israeli Salad they’ve sent instructions for, and I liked it, though I think I should have put a tidge more salt in the dressing, or maybe some kalamata olives in the salad. The dressing had sumac in it, which added a tiny bit of texture and flavor that was different, so I’ll probably use that again in a future vinagrette whip up on my own since I have a little jar in the cabinet and we never really use it. The instructions for this dish also had you tear up the pita for serving, no idea why, it just made it a pain in the ass to eat. Oh and the instructions had you bake the meatballs, but I didn’t, I just stuck them in a pan and cooked them til done through and a little crusted on each side, because it’s too damn hot to be heating up the whole house with the oven when I just use the stop top more quickly instead and everything cools off faster.

Plated week 29

Spanakopita Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Greek Salad
We liked this one, mostly. The grilled cheese was good but shmoo didn’t really care for the “salad” which I found yummy. This one wasn’t as good at fig preserve one, but I definitely see fancy grilled cheeses in our future for dinner.

Vietnamese Pork Bún with Peanut Hoisin Sauce
This was a lot like the vietnamese shaking beef from a few weeks back, glass noodles (aka bean thread noodles) and all. But it was with pork instead of beef, and instead of having you mix everything up before serving it as a noodle salad, it’s all done seperately so you had to work a little harder to get a complete bite. The highlight of the dish was the peanutbutter hoisin sauce. I think I’ll make some of that next time we do the shaking beef, and then we’ll pass on doing this one ourselves.

Plated Catchup 2, Weeks 18-28

Between this post and the last one, we are now all caught up and hopefully the weekly posts will pick up again on a more regular basis.

Week 18

Cuban Beef Bowls with Mojo Sauce and Avocado Pineapple Salsa
Not a bad dish. We would have used a different rice. The Avocado Pineapple salsa was VERY DIFFERENT. Not bad per se, just, VERY DIFFERENT.

Tandoori Chicken with Yogurt-Roasted Cauliflower and Cilantro Mint Chutney

This was a bit of a disappointment because the tandoori was the spices not the cooking style, and I had chosen this to maybe learn more about Indian cooking styles. Throwing chicken in a pan with some sauce is something I can already do. The yogurt mix on the cauliflower was messy to do, and the cauliflower ended up being oddly textured. Flavor wise it was just lacking.

Week 19

Fish Tacos with Avocado Sauce and Crunchy Slaw

Shmoo really liked these, in fact he finished mine for me. I didn’t dislike this dish, I just don’t like fish. But the tilapia was not offensive in general as far as fish goes, and I ate more of these than I did the Teriyaki Salmons a few weeks back.

Balsamic Steak Sandwiches with Creamy Horseradish
This was ok. We weren’t impressed, but it wasn’t bad. The balsamic didn’t really stand out as a flavor and the horseradish was weak.

Week 20

Savory Gruyere Bread Pudding with Spring Vegetables
This was a miss for both of us. It’s just not our flavors I guess and the texture needed some help also. I really wanted to come out of this with a decent understanding of savory bread puddings, but mostly I just think no, it’s not a thing now.

Cuban Beef Piccadillo with Spinach Rice
We liked this. We’ve made it twice since. Mostly because it’s easy and the basic ingredients were things we had on hand. It’s like Italian style sloppy joe on rice. Easy, filling, done.

Week 21

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers with Avocado Arugula Salad
The salad was better than the peppers. Shmoo loves stuffed peppers and he was disappointed with this. I tolerate them and found it lacking over all. The salad was decent, but we aren’t huge quinoa fans, and the flavor was just lacking.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Pizza with Shaved Parmesan
This was really good, but it was SO MESSY. We got it because it was a grilled dough and we’d never done that before. But it was a lot of work for a pizza. I spent a lot of kitchen despite him being the one “cooking” the chicken and pizza dough. We came nowhere close to finishing this meal. There was just too much food.

Week 22

Vietnamese Shaking Beef over Glass Noodles

We both really liked this. It was a pain in the ass to eat because the noodles were so long, and things just didn’t incorporate very well but the flavors were awesome. I just remade it with different noodles (Thai vermicelli) and we decided the glass noodles were a better choice after all so we won’t be subbing those going forward.

Falafel Spiced Chickpeas with Eggplant, Naan, and Israeli Salad
It was messy because of all the toppings on the pita, and we have determined we don’t really like eggplant; we should probably stop trying. The toasted chick peas were awesome. Tasty and crunchy.

Week 23

Coconut Curry-Crusted Cod with Jasmine Rice
It wasn’t awful but it wasn’t really great either. I was disappointed in what they called a “crust”, because the whole fished is not crusted, it’s just some stuff on the top. The rice had carrots, peas, and spinach in it and still managed to be bland.

Fontina and Brie Grilled Cheese with Fig Compote and Frisée Salad
This was great. We both loved it. Well, not the frisée salad, that was a waste of an ingredient. But the grilled cheese itself, super tasty. The fig compote was both in the sandwich and on the side, and while I personally think a longer cooking time for that would have made it better and more compote/preserve like in the more traditional sense, it was still super tasty. We are planning to do this again but it’s going to take finding the right bread to do it on. One thing I learned from this one however, was using mayonnaise on the outside of the bread instead of butter for better browning. It wasn’t bad, but I’m a butter girl, so when we do this for ourselves it will likely be with butter.

Week 24

Greek Horiatiki with Marinated Feta, Za’atar Naan, and Toasted Chickpeas
I liked the salad that came out of this, but mostly it was like the Falafel dish from week 23 but without the eggplant. So we liked it, but it was not AMAZING.

Homemade Breakfast Sausage with Asparagus Hash and Sunny-Side Up Eggs
We liked this. I learned that breakfast sausage is just ground pork with breakfast sausage herbs in it. I know that sounds obvious, but I mean, really, that’s it. I feel like could easily make my own now in the future and will no longer seek out a special kind of sausage for a recipe, instead I will just get plain ground pork and season accordingly .

Week 25

Provençal Zucchini and Potato Gratin and Butter Lettuce Salad

This was… not that great. I really wanted to like it, but it needed more seasoning or stronger flavors over all. Aaaaaand the butter lettuce. It was so gritty. I mean, GRITTY. I had soaked it for 20 minutes head of time, then swished it and rinsed it thoroughly and then put it in the salad spinner and it was still gritty as hell.

Lamb Kebabs with Papas Bravas and Mint Chimichurri
So damn good. The lamb was mixed with beef to keep it from being too overwhelmingly lamby, and the Chimichurri was perfect amount of mint. One change we had to make was not putting the almonds in the kebabs, but there was extra red onion so I put those in for that little bit of texture instead. We recently remade this dish , exactly the same way, I just added a few more things to the salad. We’ll definitely do this again.

Week 26

Coconut-Poached Chicken with Jasmine Rice and Crispy Shallots
The shallot was bad. I ended up replacing it with some dried shallots I had in the cabinet, so not as good as it could have been because they had to be rehydrated and then fried, so that was odd. Plated did give us a credit for the bad shallot though, so there’s that. This was ok, but it could have used some heat. Curry or a pepper or something. The Thai chili that was in it was not very present. This dish was OK, but it’s not one I’m looking to remake.

Grilled Steak with Potato Salad and Charred Zucchini
Who doesn’t like grilled steak? Same with the zucchini. The potato salad was done differently than I’d ever done it before, so I learned a new method from it but it’s not my preferred way to do potato salad. (The instructions had you mix all the wet in a bowl and then put your potatoes in it and coat them, so it had a lot more sauce than my family based recipe). I’ve done the potato salad again this one once since, because this method really lends itself to smaller one meal amounts of potato salad where as my traditional family recipe does not.

Week 27

Peruvian-Style Grilled Chicken with Avocado Salad and Ají Verde
The grilled avocado was surprisingly good. The aji sauce was very fresh tasting, and it was a pretty good salad over all.

Buffalo Chicken Meatball Sliders with Carrot Fries and Greek Yogurt Ranch
Thanks to a co-worker of shmoo’s also doing plated, we knew the buffalo sliders were going to need some help in the spicy department. We provided that help. I used double the sriracha in the ground chicken mixture, and then added our own buffalo sauce from the fridge. Carrot fries are weird. We didn’t hate them, but I am not going to make them again.

Week 28

Korean Steak Tacos with Kimchi

We liked this. It was very flavorful. I did not cut the meat against the grain like I should have because of the way the filets were sent to us, and that made it a little chewy to eat, but otherwise, all good. The butter lettuce in this one was not gritty and there was so much of it, we had a huge salad a few days later.

Chicken Bruschetta with Balsamic and Shaved Parmesan
This was good though nothing like we expected. I wanted to try this because I wanted to see how someone else made bruschetta. It involved way more cooking than I would have thought was necessary. Cooking the tomatoes and onions made them a lot sweeter than what I would consider a traditional bruschetta flavor to be. The balsamic glaze was pre-made and you just squeezed it over everything. It was flavorful, but again a bit sweeter than I would have expected. We’ll continue to make bruschetta in the future, but probably not this way.

Plated Catchup, Weeks 11-17

Week 11

Beef Rendang with Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime, and Yellow Rice
We liked it, but it was not an inspirational recipe for us. I was not compelled to recraft it or recreate it in any way, but we don’t regret getting it either.

Brown Butter Orecchiette
This was delicious and we’ve made it twice since. Shmoo LOVED it. “That stuff was fucking delicious, plus it had peas in it!!”

Week 12

Buffalo Cauliflower Bowl with Corn, Romaine, and Greek Yogurt Ranch
Tasty, and very likely something we’d do again if we could remember more often that we liked it. Filling though vegetarian.

Korean Beef Burritos with Kimchi Rice and Gochujang Aioli
Wasn’t very memorable. I do remember being disappointed that there was not actual Kimchi to go in the rice. (Looking back at the ingredient list for this recipe, it shows 1 cup of kimchi, but we didn’t get that and we didn’t notice that we didn’t, or it wasn’t true kimchi, because I distinctly remember being disappointed about there being no kimchi for this one, and shmoo remembers me saying something about it at the time.)

Week 13

Shakshuka with Roasted Eggplant, Bell Peppers, and Feta
We really liked the Shakshuka, but I did pick out most of my eggplant. The more vegetarian dishes we do, the more I just know I don’t like eggplant and don’t want to eat it. Shmoo will eat it but doesn’t really care for it either.
Other than that though, this was really good, and we will probably consider making it again with tofu or seitan (quorn, morningstar, etc) at some point.

Teriyaki Salmon Tacos with Seaweed Salad
The Teriyaki Salmon tacos were a hit with shmoo. The Seaweed Salad we both found repulsive. I ate 1.5 of my 3 tacos for this dish. Fish is always going to be work for me to eat, but I gave it an honest effort and learned that Teriyaki is a decent way to cover up fish taste, so there’s that.

Week 14

Risotto with Kale Walnut Pesto
This was not a true risotto or a true pesto and Dinosaur Kale is weird. Other than that, it was a tasty rice dish that had a good flavor overall, and the walnuts added some texture so it wasn’t boring to eat.

Caprese Empanadas
These were yum! I need to find a good empanada dough recipe so we can make them again ourselves. I always find things you eat with your hands appealing for some reason, so possibly that this was empanadas made me like it more than I would have it if were done in a slightly different preparation, but we liked these and would eat again.

Week 15

First, I need to talk about the Arugula and Plated’s customer Service for this one. Our Arugula was going bad or already there when we went to eat these on Saturday and Sunday night. (Our boxes come on Tuesdays, so it had been in our fridge for 4-5 days at this point.) The next week’s dish also had Arugula in it that was already starting to go, and I was cooking it Tuesday night, so I had shmoo contact customer service to let them know their Arugula was an issue and they should look into their supplier.

Customer service was very nice. She listened to the issue, and then she credited shmoo 24 bucks to his account for the bad Arugula. While that’s nice and all, and probably their policy, that really wasn’t what we were aiming for as a result. I didn’t really want money back or a credit, I wanted them to stop using shitty Arugula that was going bad in our boxes. I can generally tell when lettuces and such are about to go bad, I feel like most people can. Why was that packed in our boxes?

Anyway, can’t complain about the credit, it was over and above what we were seeking as a result. The only real complaint I have is that the rep closed out the chat session prior to shmoo doing so. Now, we were done and he was trying to figure out how to close it, but as someone who has worked customer service for years, and had to do chat support, you never never close your session first when you are the support rep, and if you do, it’s because something went wrong or they went unresponsive for X number of minutes where X > 5. So while no harm no foul, if I were this person’s manager, I wouldn’t like that behavior, and it irked me to see it as a customer. Shmoo however, had absolutely no problem with this.

Beef Bolognese Sliders with Ricotta and Arugula Salad
Huge disappointment. Liked the brioche buns and the Ricotta/Parm mixture on top and the carmelized onions in the meat, but either we just never realized Bolognese was so damn bland, or this was just too damn bland in general. The Ricotta and Parm mixturem, the onions in the meat, and the brioche buns, we carried over into some Sloppy Joes a week or two later, and that WAS good. So now this might be one of my go-to super fast meals as long as the sauce on the meat is Manwhich sauce and not bland bland bolognese. (The salad was meh due to the failing Arugula.)

Crunchy Chicken Milanese with Honey Mustard and Arugula
This was good, though I thought it used too many dishes. I’d do chicken again this way. The honey mustard was a nice addition as well. I could see making this version of honey mustard to go with some chicken tenders. I replaced the crappy Arugula with some some iceberg lettuce we had in the fridge for the salad, and it was still good, mostly because the vinaigrette was a very bright taste. If the Arugula had been better off, the salad likely would have been the star of the plate.

Week 16

Cacio e Pepe Gnocchi with Asparagus, Peas, and Mint
We both liked this one, though I think shmoo might have liked it just because he really likes gnocci. I’ve used the technique for this sauce with linguini on days I work from home for quick easy but tasty and filling lunch twice now, and know I will do so again.

Steak Gyros with Greek Yogurt-Feta Sauce and Peppers
This was OK, but this was the dish that the Arugula was already going bad on the same day we got the shipment, so over all it could have been better but it was good.

Week 17

Little Gem Caesar with Crispy Chickpeas, Purple Potatoes, and Spring Onion
This was both hit and miss.
Plated contacted us about substitutions in advance. Green gem lettuce instead of reg gem, and spring scallions instead of spring onions.
The seasoned and baked chickpeas and purple potatoes were really good.
The lettuce was halved and then quartered longways, and then used like that. I liked this but it also kinda made it difficult to eat. I could see doing this again but then also doing some crosswise cuts to make it more bite sized, so you still get the large block of lettuce, but not a whole spear at once.
The Ceasar dressing was not a Ceasar dressing and the whole reason I picked this recipe was to learn to make a proper Ceasar dressing.
The watermelon radish. We were sent WAY. TOO. MUCH. Saying too much is not even nearly the amount that was sent. It was also tough and not very flavorful. Regular radishes would have been really good here, but going to take a pass on watermelon radishes in the future.

Seared Steak Quesadillas with Poblano Salsa and Chimichurri
So so good. We are already making this again for ourselves because we have most of the ingredients on hand and skirt steak was on sale when we went to order groceries. Shmoo will grill the seasoned skirt steak, and then we’ll do this one night, and fajitas another. (Even later update, we’ve made this ourselves twice!)

Some Baseball Spinning

So I’ve been spinning while watching baseball lately, mostly on the weekends, as weeknights it’s generally when we eat dinner, but still, spinning!

I’ve cleaned a few things off my bobbins by finishing up 2 spinning projects that have been going off an on for a few years now.
If you’re like me, you’re mostly just here for the photos, and I have put the pertinent details on the photos (click to embiggen if the writing is too small!), so I won’t repeat them here.

The pink stuff has been washed and set, the blue stuff has not, as you can see its loose photo, it’s all curly. It’s in the bath now.

Skeins and Details
Tequila Sunrise, 400 yds, worsted
Lagoon, thin green to thick blue, 281 yards

Eldritch knitting

I read another story for Escape Artist’s podcast, Pseudopod recently. It was just a short flash fiction piece in an episode that had several works in it, but I loved it (and I don’t always love the things I read). It has binary, knitting, the moon, and magic in it. If you want to check it out, you can find it here.

If you’re here for the Plated recipes, they will be caught up soon! Come back again later. :D

Tits Off for Harambe! (or Hey, I got a breast reduction.)

So, I had a breast reduction on January 24th, and these are my observations/reflections/thoughts. I’m going to talk about the surgery first, and then at the bottom, I’ll have my thoughts on it as well as the reasons behind it. I’ve done it this way so people looking for information on having this done can find it quickly and easily, and people who just want my thoughts and not the details of the thing can just skip down to that. (This is much like my tonsil removal post, so if you didn’t find that entertaining in any way, you probably want to skip this one too.)

My pre-surgery research references:
I combed through the internet for the sane blog posts and articles from people who have had the surgery. I paid a lot of attention to sections that said “things I wish I had known before hand” and that helped a great deal in preparedness and expectations. To all those people, especially ones who posted photos of before, and after, Thank you. I will not be posting photos at this time, however a few years down the road, I can see adding some time lapse back in to this post, as the photos I found the most helpful covered a span of years.

Some of the links I found and used as my research:

Pre-surgery prep recommendations:
1. Ask the doc for more than one post-surgical bra if you are required to wear one. If you have a second one, you can wash one while you are wearing the second, and just keep a rotation going. This is preferred.

2. Go ahead and have bandages/guaze and surgical tape on hand ahead of time. You’re going to need them. Maybe not right away, but you will need them. The best ones I’ve found to use also happened to be the most affordable ones I’ve found. You can get them here. Get at least two boxes when placing an order and even with paying shipping it’s still cheaper than the pharmacy/drug store. I ended up doing bandages on my incisions for 7 weeks afterwards and went through 3 boxes of these bandages. We put the leftovers in our first aid kit. I don’t have a tape recommedation other than find one that doesn’t make you itch or irritate your skin. I originally purchased Nexcare tape because their bandaid generally work for me quite well. Their tape made me itch, so on my second Jeffer’s order, I picked up some of theirs, and that worked better.

3. Get your prescription filled ahead of time and have it near where you will be recovering so it doesn’t have to be filled or located after surgery. You’ll thank me for this. You’re welcome in advance.

4. Take a pillow for padding between you and the seatbelt for the trip home. I live less than 5 miles from the hospital, so it wasn’t a huge ordeal for me, but if you have to drive for a longer amount of time, you’ll want the pillow for sure.

Actual Surgery related notes:

    1. The marks they make on your body for the reduction are a lot like a Tailor’s marks for corset contstruction. I found this an interesting correlation. Afterwards, it was amazing to me to see how far down my stomach the marks went because the new smaller boobs were so much higher.

    2. Standing Prep. I was awake in the OR. I stood up on some paper, naked as hell, and got swabbed down with cold cold iodine. Then shuffled over to the table, and got up on it and laid down so that I was placed exactly how the surgeon wanted me to be, then they knocked me out and proceeded. I’m not an exibitionist so this was a little awkward, but I quickly got over it because I was going to be unconcious with these people anyway, so it’s not like they weren’t going to see me at my worst as it was. And honestly, I don’t much care if someone went home and said “OMG this fat lady got surgery today and I saw her naked before hand” because if that’s the highlight of their day, they have other problems.

    3. Catheter. It turns out they give you one because of the amount of time you are under. Plan accordingly. The nurse I was talking to about this unexpected bonus said the same thing happened to her for her C-section. You may not care, but you might, so you plan accordingly if you do.

    4. Sleeping arrangements. Recliner recommended and if you don’t have one, you need a lot of pillows. Sleeping sitting up more than lying down is needed for proper drainage, at least the first few days. After that drainage slows down or stops and it’s not as big a deal but you can’t really sleep on your sides yet either so I slept in the recliner for almost a month afterwards until I got the all clear to sleep on my side some because if I had slept in bed, I would defintely have tried to sleep on my side.

    5. Speaking of drainage, Shmoo’s entry for this list is that “Drainage” means blood. So when they tell the person giving you after care there will be drainage and to change the pads as needed, they mean blood.

Recovery related notes:

    1. Your boobs are going to look like a train wreck right after surgery. Healing takes time. Don’t panic.

    2. One side hurts more than the other, and from the start I’ve had more mobility in the less painful arm (my right). The side that hurts less and has more mobility seems to be draining more, but I have no evidence or subject matter expertise to support that’s the difference.

    3. Speaking of sides… the sides of your body will heal at different speeds. No shit. My doc says this happens with facial reconstructions and such as well, even when it’s an incision going across the mid-line of the body, each side will heal at a different speed. In my case, my right side healed faster.

    4. Everything is really tight right now. My skin especially. Gravity appears to not be a thing for my boobs. From everything I’ve read, it will take some time for them to “settle” and look less like little square shaped skin sacks and back to more natural boob shape. And by time, I mean months.

    5. Do not buy bras in advance. You don’t actually know what size you will end up being until all the swelling has gone down and some healing has happened. Surgical bras should be worn at least 2 weeks if you need one (I was told a sports bra would have been more than enough, but I also got lipo under my arms to get rid of the sideboob that would have been left behind otherwise). I’ve been told and read that the longer you wear the surgical bras (1 to 4 months) the better your boobs end up looking. Also, underwire bras are out for a bit for sure. That wire would be right on a seam/scar. Some people can’t wear an underwire bra up to a year afterwards. As it currently stands, I may never wear one. My incisions feel like I am wearing underwires all the time right now. Additional pressure on those scars as they keep healing would be super painful and likely make me nuts.

    5. If you are prescribed Opiods for pain for after surgery, go ahead and get some Correctol or Seneca etc. You’re going to need it as long as you are on the Opiods. You won’t notice you need it for about 2-3 days, and then you’ll suddenly need it a lot. It turns out, the cells in your lower intestine/bowels respond the same way the cells in your brain do to Opiods. So your body says, “hey, shouldn’t you be working?” and the cells say “nope! we’re good”, and that keeps going until the body says “HEY! YOU NEED TO POOP NOW! NOOOOOOW.” and the cells are all “Nope! it’s all good.” But it’s not. It’s really not.

    6. Your nerves have to remap and regrow. This causes a lot of really wierd sensations. Not a damn one of the stories I read in preparation for surgery mentioned this. So let me say it as loud as I can. IT IS GOING TO BE WEIRD FOR YOU WHEN YOUR NERVES ARE ADJUSTING TO YOUR NEW BOOBS. One nipple is super sensitive and any time anyone comes near it and like.. you know, walks into the room, it twitches and gets hard. The other nipple has no feeling at all directly in the center, but the areola around it has feeling. The skin on my boobs is constantly having odd sensations. Sometimes there are itches in places that just don’t exist anymore because my brain can’t interpret where the signal is coming from correctly yet. Sometimes my brain tells me the nipple that has no feeling is desperately itchy. It’s not, it has no feeling, and there is no way to communicate this back to my brain in a way that makes the itchiness go away. My chest often feels like it has a massive fever in the areas affected by the surgery. It’s not hot to the touch, but the the skin has this buzzing burning sensation to it and it’s super super senstive. It’s like when you are coming down with the flu and even the hairs on your head hurt and the breeze from someone walking by you irritates your skin. That is how it feels, for hours at a time, and this goes on for weeks. NO ONE MENTIONED THIS!!! It’s not like this would have been a deal breaker for me, but it would have been nice to know in advance.

    7. You will very likely reject some of your internal stitches. It seems to be pretty common with this surgery. The internal stitches are supposed to dissolve and be absorbed into the body. But! If air touches them, it allows bacteria to find them. Bacteria really like the material the stitches are made with, so they are attracted do it, and then it hangs out there. Your body wants nothing to do with this, and proceeds to evict that shit from your body, as it should. This means your incisions take longer to heal, because your body isn’t trying to close off an incision when it’s trying to kick something out of that location. Once the stitch gets to a point it has been evicted (or removed by your doc, or possibly you in between visits) it’ll proceed with closing up the that lingering incision site. At 5 weeks post surgery, I still had open incision locations where I was rejecting stitches, and was still doing wet to dry bandages twice a day until the incisions closed over (at around 7 weeks out).

Mental/Emotional observation type notes:

    1. I was an H cup. I am now a large C/small D cup. (Not sure which yet, because I’m still in post-surgical bras and sports bras, and will be for a while.) I am totally satisfied with the change. I told the Doc I wanted a C or smaller, and he did his best. It turns out you have to keep enough breast to keep the nipple viable or it dies or something to that effect, but he was able to take more off than he originally thought, and I was pretty happy about that.

    2. Suddenly having a much smaller breasts is a bit of a mind-fuck. Your body perceptions and what you think/feel about yourself changes. I am still the same person I was, but now I am not weighed down by what society has taught me about women with large breasts. I’m getting a lot more eye contact from men, and I’m no longer an obvious “easy” sexual target. I’m just me, and that’s pretty fucking awesome. You don’t realize the day to day crap you put up with until it’s suddenly just not there anymore.

    2. My body profile is less balanced. My stomach is more obvious. Not that it wasn’t obvious before, because hey, I am fat and you could all see that, but it’s more obvious to me now because I don’t have ginormous boobs sitting on top of it. I am OK with that. Honestly, I feel like a kid again. My boobs haven’t been this size since around 7th grade. You know how you felt super free as a kid in the summertime running around in sprinkler in your underwear? That’s a lot what I felt like in my first shower after surgery. I know visually I have boobs, and I can feel them and see that they are there, but they are so much smaller and so much less in the way I feel like they aren’t there and it’s AMAZING.

    3. Healing takes time. Everything I read made it seem like after a few days I’d be chomping at the bit to be moving again and after the 2 weeks, it’d all be back to normal. It wasn’t. Maybe it’s because I am 42 instead of 22. Maybe it’s the amount of tissue I had removed. Or maybe it’s because I have RA and healing is always slower for me. But from everything my doctor has said, I am progressing normally. So anyone who says it’s not big deal, tell them to suck it ’cause they lie. It has taken 7.5 weeks for me to recover “fully” from this surgery. By fully I mean, I can lift my arms over my head again easily and without pain (though it still pulls a little). I can lift more than 10lbs. I have been cleared to exercise and swim again. I can wear (sports/sleep) bras that aren’t my post surgical bras, without discomfort. I don’t think “damn, my boobs hurt” 100 times a day from nerve pains or incision irritations. I don’t need to wear bandages and replace them twice a day. Sleeping in the bed as opposed to the recliner doesn’t make me uncomfortable.

    That’s not to say there aren’t still some things that are quirky, but mostly, life is normal. The doctor’s office doesn’t even take the post surgery pictures until 3 months after, so if you really wanted a time frame for full recovery, that’s likely it.

If I had to do it over again, would I? Yes. In a heartbeat. If you live near me and want the doctor’s name, hit me up. He’s not internet saavy, so don’t expect a lot of fancy tech anything. But since I was paying him to fix my boobs, and not to internet all the things, I am just fine with that. He’s good at what he does; he’s honest and up front with you even if you don’t like what he’s got to say. He worked well with both me and shmoo, and that’s a pretty high standard from any angle.