The Fulfillment Series

The Fulfillment Series

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Rhew The Nation -- Keto Trip Planning

Y'all, Deek and I just got back from the most amazing cross-country trip ever!! Be prepared for posts on cool things to do and things to skip if you're planning a trip across the nation! Oh, and pictures...lots and lots of pictures! ;)

South Dakota -- a surprising "must see" place

Despite some financial randomness that has sprung up over the past year, Deek and I were able to squirrel away money specifically for this trip. It's very important to us that all vacations be paid for upfront and never be put on credit (we adhere to Dave Ramsey's Financial Freedom method). After spending years (before me) with a credit card addicted person who nearly drove him into the financial ground, Deek can only enjoy vacations knowing they're not being put on credit. And I'm an uber budgeter, so it's another way we're a perfect match!
We keep getting the question, how did you stay keto and LOSE weight on vacation? So, I thought I'd start this blog series by answering that burning question. First, it required a lot of food planning. Second, we packed exercise clothes and made reservations at hotels with fitness centers. Though no one enjoys exercising on vacation, we made a point to do it on days when we weren't walking/hiking to explore things. But I'll go into more detail on the food part since that's the element most people have asked us about.
Before we went on the trip, we did a ton of planning. As I mentioned before, Deek and I are doing keto, and we're having *major* success. I just did a side-by-side comparison of myself before starting and now, and WHOA! I can't even post it because the before is just too embarrassing. Anyhoo, we knew we didn't want to get off this keto train, not even for an epic vacation. So, we planned and planned.

Our daily snack packs

Here are some of our helpful "staying on keto" tips for traveling cross-country:

1) Get a cargo rack for your food storage. I'm short, so we needed something on the back of the car instead of on the top. We got one like this (used the "trip prep" part of our budget for it)...

2) Get a great storage bin to put on the storage rack. I got this fabulous one at Walmart for only $12, and this sucker kept our food in good condition despite dust and rain storms.

3) Think about where you will be going. For the first leg of the trip, we took a northern route, so we decided to pack cold items in a cooler. On the way back, we took the southern route. We'd been warned of temperatures potentially in the 110-115 range (though it actually never got above 90), so we elected to do shelf stable food only for that leg of the trip.

4) Pre-pack as much food as you can. It saves you money, and you have snacks right at your fingertips. I broke everything up by day. We had breakfast, lunch, and snack bags for each day (we budgeted to eat dinners out). In the morning, we'd pull out that day's worth of food. We'd put the cold stuff in the inside cooler and the shelf stable stuff in the door for easy access.

If you can tear your eyes from the incredibly sexy man in the picture, note his shelf stable collection of food in the door.

5) Measure, measure, measure. We packed a lot of macadamia nuts and pecans since they're high in fat and low in carbs. But we measured out each portion. That made tracking our macros (in My Fitness Pal) super easy. 

6) Stay hydrated! We personally love electrolyte water (Whole Food's 365 and Life Water are our favorites) and Bai drinks.

Strawberry Lemonade is my favorite, but Deek likes the blueberry.

7) Research shelf stable foods because they're so much easier than dealing with a cooler. You might not think there are a lot of options for keto, but there are! Here are some we found:

--F Bombs (love the name, and the flavor is exceptional!)

--Duke's Smokies. We found these at New Seasons in the PNW, but we were pleased to find out you can order them online too!

--Heart Healthy Nuts by Planters

--Pistachios by Wonderful (my favorite is the salt and pepper) 

--Epic -- There aren't a lot of Epic products I like, but I *did* like this one!

-- Premier Protein Shakes -- I'm allergic to the proteins in milk, but Deek loves these!

7) Know what you can eat if you decide to eat out. Deek and I had pre-planned places we could eat and what we could eat at those place. But we did leave room for spontaneity. For example, in Independence, MO, we ate at a charming little place called The Salty Iguana. Deek is semi-obsessed with iguanas, so we know it was the perfect place to eat! For the record, Iggy's Hot Pot is all that and then some. Mmmmm!! I would consider a trip back to Independence just to stay at the awesome Stoney Creek Hotel and eat at The Salty Iguana again! 

Examples of food you can pre-plan to eat out:

--Wendy's -- 2 Jr. Bacon cheeseburgers without the bun and condiments

--Subway-- Italian Hero (meat and cheese only), Italian BMT (meat and cheese only), Subway Philly cheesesteak (meat and cheese only)

--Mexican -- Fajitas without the wrap

8) Have fun. Now, please know, I'm not saying you can't have fun on vacation too! Like I said, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at The Salty Iguana, and it stayed within our keto guidelines. But as I mentioned in another post, I am hypothyroid. Because of that, I have to be careful with keto and have a high carb day once a week to keep my T4s and T3s doing what they're supposed to be doing. Our vacation allotted us two high carb days, so we strategically planned them for the PNW (at Deek's favorite restaurant) and Vegas. We ended up eating at Pinup Pizza in Vegas and getting the largest slices on the strip!

Deek's back home and eating with his family at his favorite place!

Pinup Pizza--biggest slices on the strip!

If you're thinking of traveling while on a specific eating plan, it CAN be done. Deek and I both LOST weight on this trip, and we came home feeling great. Keto gives us tons of energy, so we were able to fully enjoy this vacation. We didn't come back with that vacation bloat and fatigue that so often happens from too much indulgence. 

Even on a long, cross-country trip, you can stay keto, make room for some special treats, and return home with a great sense of accomplishment!

Stay tuned for more about our epic trip!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Unexpected Life Changes

So, I recently wrote about our new eating plan, and I'd intended to do post on the oil cleanse method, which has revolutionized my skin. But life had other plans. Unexpected plans.

My great uncle J.H. passed away. In April, he'd been diagnosed with kidney cancer, and by June, he was gone. While it wasn't quite as unexpected and out-of-the-blue as my PaPa's death, it was still so fast. Too fast. When PaPa died, I wondered if it would have been easier to have known and have had some warning. But now I know. You're never ready. We're never ready to let go of the people we love.

J.H. was my Mema's (grandma) brother. So, he's technically my great uncle, though I've only ever called him Uncle J.H. Uncle J.H. and Aunt Bobbie. Their names have always flowed together as one, like Mema and PaPa. I *still* say Mema and PaPa, and it's been almost a year. I can't think of one without the other, and the same goes for Uncle J.H. and Aunt Bobbie.

Y'all, I've always admired Uncle J.H. He carried himself in such a stately manner, like if you looked in the dictionary under "Southern gentleman," you'd find his picture. But he was also down-to-earth, always asking about other people and being genuinely interested in their answers. He was one of a kind, and the world--our family--has truly lost another bright light.

Deek often comes up with these great analogies for things, but at first, you don't see the connection. So, he always starts with "Hang with me for a minute." I'm going to say that now. Hang with me for a minute, and you'll see where this is going...

This morning, I envisioned our family like a Light Bright picture (see...hang with me here). Does anyone remember those? I think they actually still sell them.

Each member is a light that makes up the amazing picture that is my family. And slowly, over time, some of those lights go out. MaMa (my great-grandmother), PaPa's brothers and sister, cousins, PaPa, and now Uncle J.H. Sometimes lights come into the picture, when babies are born or when people get married, but never in the same place as the lights that went out. Those are not replaceable.

This Light Bright picture of our family is ever changing. One image is not more beautiful than the next, just different. But when you're like me and remember the original picture--the one with everyone who's gone--you miss it. You yearn to see it, and them, just one more time. 

But the truth is...that's not the original image, is it? That's the new picture that changed when the people before us--PaPa, his brothers and sisters, Uncle J.H.--lost their own loved ones. The image I feel is the "original" came only when other lights faded. I bet PaPa and Uncle J.H. missed their "original" Light Bright family pictures too. I bet they stood where the rest of my family is standing today...mired in grief and sadness. Missing. Longing. Wishing.

Yet PaPa and Uncle J.H. kept shining. And we should too. Instead of thinking their light has gone out, we should imagine it has been transferred--to the rest of us. It's up to us now to shine as brightly as we can. This family Light Bright picture may not be the one we remember, but it's beautiful too. It's infused with the lights of so many generations. 

It's a legacy. A proud, deep legacy.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Life Changes

Hey y'all! It's about to be summa, summa, summa up in here! WOOT!! I am so freakin' excited! Give me a hot day over a cold one any day of the year! ;)

Throwback to our honeymoon after the 2nd/Southern wedding!

Speaking of throwback and the 2nd/Southern wedding, Deek and I just celebrated another anniversary! Let me tell you, life with this man just keeps getting better and better. Every day I think I can't love him any more than I did the day before, and yet, I do! He is my dream come true, and I adore him epically!

And now... 
More in love than ever and having a blast!

And if you needed more proof that my hubby rocks, may I present his latest "just because" gift to me...

House Stark forever!!

Okie dokie, now let's talk about some changes that have been in the works.

Eating: For the past five years or so, I've struggled with my thyroid and adrenal failure. Before Deek, I lived a *super* stressful life, and living that way for so long has lasting effects (see my posts about that here and here).  If you know anything about thyroid problems and adrenal failure, you know it's almost impossible to lose weight.
I'd had success with South Beach and paleo in the past, so Deek and I gave those a shot. We worked out and we ate right and...nothing. I might bounce down a pound or two, but it would always come back. Many times, I'd look at my husband and say, "Screw it. I might as well eat pizza and Coke every day for all the good this diet is doing me!"

I still think pizza may be the most perfect food ever invented...

Also, I had been having pain in my stomach every time I ate. Back in January 2017, I had a stomach virus, and my tummy has not been happy since. A doctor said when your stomach goes through a trauma like a bad virus or something like that, it can take up to two years to fully heal. Think of it like this...if you break your arm, you put it in a cast, and it heals. But your stomach is never "off duty."

Enter keto. I'd been reading about it a lot and considering it for a long time, but everyone said, "Don't do it if you have a thyroid problem. It will shut your thyroid down!" So, I stayed away, but it kept creeping up the back of my mind. One day, I told Deek I was going to devote some time to really studying this eating plan and see if it would mess my thyroid up even more.

Confession, I freakishly love to research. I mean, I *really* love it. I need some kind of job where I just research stuff for people. Anyhoo, I found a way to make keto work with the thyroid. After Deek and I discussed it, we decided to give it a try.

Y'all, I am losing weight! It's slower than most keto people because of my thyroid and adrenals, but it's happening!!! I had this pair of shorts that did not fit me in April. I'm talking about I looked like a sausage being stuff into casing--that bad. But I wore those shorts yesterday, and they were super loose. What the heck??

But more than that, I *feel* good. My stomach does not hurt at all anymore, and I have energy like crazy. Now, I'm not a doctor (check with professionals if you're considering a diet change), so y'all take this anecdotal story with a grain of salt. But man, it's changed my life!

In addition to eating keto, I do HIIT workouts, tabatas, and interval running.

I spoke to my mom yesterday, and she decided to do keto also. She said she's losing weight and feeling great. She said "Keto even works for old people." LOL! She's not old BTW. ;)

Ain't she purty? And definitely *not* old.

Since this blog post is already super long, I'll save my next change for my next post. In that, I'll be talking about my new facial regime (it's not for any sales company). I make it at home, and it's revolutionized my face. 

I'll leave you with this recent photo of me and Deek doing what we do--having fun together. Until next time... 

It's you. It's always been you, and it'll always be you!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Someone Else's Soul Cover Reveal -- Meradeth Houston

Someone Else’s Soul
Meradeth Houston
Published by: Bleeding Ink Publishing
Publication date: May 7th 2019
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Suspense
There are 14 strangers who share her face, and one company is determined to erase them all.
 Everyone has secrets, and it’s Diana Kane’s job to know them. It’s a talent–being able to see into someone’s life from the scuffs on their shoes to the way their hold their hands–a talent that sets her apart from everyone. When a mysterious stranger drops into her life dangling the possibility of something she’s longed for, a real connection with someone who might actually understand her, she’s too intrigued to refuse.
But when David Addington shows up to their date knowing too much about her, and the top secret agency she works for, Diana realizes their meeting was anything but coincidence. David has more than his share of surprises, including an impossible claim about Diana’s past and photos of an inexplicable woman who shares her face.

When her life begins to unravel around her, Diana has no choice but to put her faith in the mysterious David and the man he claims is his father. As she struggles to piece together the truth about where she came from, she’s forced to face the reality that her entire life has been manufactured, along with fourteen other women who share her exact same DNA. Confronted with the troubling reality that she’s nothing more than a research experiment that’s pushed the boundaries of science and ethics, Diana must rescue the others like her before the company can erase them as mistakes. She will have to put all her skills to the test in the ultimate game of survival…

Author Bio:

Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her: 
>She’s a Northern California girl. This generally means she talks too fast and use "like" a lot. 
>When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun! 
>She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work! 
>If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights. 


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Exciting Times Ahead!

Thanks to Facebook's "On This Day," Deek realized he'd been working on The Extractor for a year now.

Our process is creatively dumping the story in about three to four months and then spending a good six to nine self-editing. When Deek finished self-editing, he sent it over to me, and I performed a content edit. Now he's almost done with his revisions based on my notes, and then he'll send it Anya Kagan at Touchstone Editing for her review. Once he's implemented her changes, he'll send it back to me for line edits. Whew! Sounds exhausting? It can be, but we love the process!!

And after all that...he'll be ready to submit to agents!

I personally think this story is unique and intriguing enough to warrant agent attention. And that's not just a proud wife talking (though I am that); it's an editor who has seen a lot of submissions and worked on a lot projects.

It's geeky and sci-fi--yes, plenty of that goodness--but it raises interesting questions about who we are and what makes us, well, us.

And I am SO thrilled to announce that Deek's publisher, Tenacious Books Publishing, will be releasing an audio book of Birth of An American Gigolo on May 15! Y'all, they picked an AMAZING voice actor who totally captured the essence of Lindsey and the rest of the crew. A big thank you and shout out to Crystal at Femme Vocale

For those who love Sam Bradford and the 122 Rules saga, don't worry, Book 2 is in the works and should be out in 2019! There may even be a new cover for Book 1, from none other than the supremely talent Anita Carroll! Although, I do like what she did with the first cover, she and Deek have some smashing ideas for a revamp!

122 Rules Original cover

As for me, I've got my sci-fi, The Transhuman Project, out with some agents and am waiting to hear back. Y'all, the writing world is a serious test of patience. I'm not a good waiter, but I'm trying to be. I also got some awesome feedback from a stellar agent about Restore To Me. I'm working on implementing those changes, and hopefully something will come of that in the near future. 

The Transhuman Project's inspiration photo

Right now, I'm also working on an editing project through the Rhewbix Cube deal. If you haven't heard of it, take a gander here. You'll have the chance to work with Anya, Anita, and me, and we'll make sure you have a book ready to be published, formatting and all, by the end of the process.

Take advantage of the Rhewbix Cube deal!

Exciting times are ahead for the Rhews! We're cranking out books just as fast as we can while keeping quality in mind. But sure to stay tuned...and hang on for the ride! ;) 

Random notation: I've noticed that the longer I've been with Deek, the bigger my smile gets. I think in the beginning, I was still trying to figure out if a man could *actually* be as awesome, thoughtful, and wonderful as he seemed. But now, I know he really and truly is that amazing and more. Just a fun observation I had of late. Man, do I love me some Deek Rhew. I'm the luckiest girl in the world! 

If I smile any bigger, I'm going to break my face.
This man makes me happier than I ever dreamed I could be!

Friday, April 27, 2018

ECOSYSTEM by Joshua David Bellin -- Blog Tour

Hello, everyone! Today, I'm pleased to have Joshua David Bellin, or you may know him as the YA Guy, on my blog. We're here to talk about his latest book baby, Ecosystem! Be sure to read all the way to the end because there is a rafflecopter giveaway!! ;)

The Cover

Ecosystem Book Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Sarah is a Sensor, gifted with the ability to survive within the sentient Ecosystem that swept away human civilization centuries ago. While the remnants of humankind huddle in small villages of stone, Sarah uses her psychic connection to the Ecosystem to travel freely in the wild in search of food, water, and fuel. Sarah doesn’t fear the Ecosystem—but she hates it for killing her mother when Sarah was a child. When she hunts, she hunts not only for her people’s sustenance but for revenge.

Then Miriam, an apprentice Sensor, is lost in the Ecosystem, and Sarah sets out to rescue her. Joining Sarah is Miriam’s beloved, Isaac, a boy who claims to possess knowledge of the Ecosystem that will help their people survive. The harrowing journey to find the missing apprentice takes Sarah and Isaac into the Ecosystem’s deadliest places. And it takes Sarah into the unexplored territory of her own heart, where she discovers feelings that threaten to tear her—and her society—apart.

A thrilling fantasy adventure from the author of Freefall and the Survival Colony series, Ecosystem is the first book in a YA trilogy that includes The Devouring Land (2019) and House of Earth, House of Stone (2020).

Ecosystem Excerpt

I’m first of the Sensors to return. Not surprising, as my circuit was the shortest, my track the safest. The others have gone deep into the Ecosystem, to places I’ve only heard of, realms I can only imagine. In time, if I’m successful, I’ll seek out the same places, where the game is thickest and the dangers greatest. In time, if I live, I’ll train the next generation of Sensors, as Aaron has trained me.
But tonight, I’ll celebrate. The village will celebrate. They will celebrate me.
We will meet in the great hall, the entire community assembled as one, except for the few threshers assigned to guard the periphery against the Ecosystem’s attacks. In the stone hearth, the firestarters will light the blaze that is the Ecosystem’s chief grievance against us, that and the cutting tools with which the threshers keep the forest from encroaching on the pavilion of stone. As the flickering shadows grow against the vault’s stone walls, the Sensors will step forward to be acknowledged by the mass of commoners. In their identical uniforms of close-fitting brown fur, cut short to expose muscled arms and long legs, the members of the Sensorship will stand like statues: aloof, unsmiling, their Sense of the Ecosystem isolating them from the community they’re sworn to serve. And for the first time, clothed in the matching outfit I wore on today’s hunt, I will stand with them. I’ll stand straight and still as the rest, though my heart will tremble with excitement.
Then Nathan, as Conservator of our order, will deliver the customary address, reminding the populace of how the Sensorship came to be. In his deep and commanding voice, he’ll speak of the days of old, when humans were numerous and powerful, when their towns and trails covered the land. He’ll speak of towers that climbed to the skies, things like giant birds that flew across earth and water and air. He’ll tell us of devices that enabled one man to hail another across the globe, ghostly screens that enabled one to see another’s face no matter the distance between them. We who’ve known only the Ecosystem these past hundred generations will find the picture laughable, but none of us will laugh. Even the village children will stand silent and solemn, seeing in the shadows stirred by Nathan’s voice visions of a time that once was, a time that can never be again.
And then, his voice sunk to a whisper, Nathan will speak of the Ecosystem’s rise. He’ll tell how, unseen and undreamed of by those who claimed earth’s dominion, the planet’s innumerable threads of life knitted themselves into one, the first dim flickers of awareness burgeoning over time into full angry consciousness. He’ll speak of cities overwhelmed by jungle or swallowed by monsters from below, farmlands turned to lakes of poison and parklands roamed by deadly predators. He’ll spare no detail, yet his words will fall far short of reality. It was a planetary outpouring of grief and rage, a coordinated attack that swept human civilization from the face of the earth. It gave rise to the world we know, a world in which the Ecosystem rules and we who were once its masters huddle in its shadow.
But it didn’t destroy us all. Its desire was thwarted, and so its anger festers to this day. For among the few of our kind who were left, there arose a fraction who discovered within themselves a hint of the Ecosystem’s will, an ability to hear its dark whispers. These were the first Sensors, and as they gathered the survivors around them, there arose the first villages of stone, the first walls and firewells, the first masters and apprentices. Down to the present day, the Sensors have used their power for good, their Sense of the Ecosystem freeing them to roam the forest in the daily hunt for food and fuel. They’ve served their people selflessly, renouncing all ties that might distract from their vital calling: ties of love, family, children. We know nothing of how other villages fare; for all we can tell, we’re alone. But so long as the Sensorship stands, we will not fall.
When Nathan finishes, the commoners will applaud, though they’ll have understood his words only the way a blind man understands what it means to see. As the village’s newest Sensor, I’ll be singled out for my investiture, receiving from Aaron’s hand the token he received from his own master, and his master from the one before, and so on back to the beginning, something no one outside this line of masters and apprentices has seen. It will be small, and Aaron will pass it to me in secret, an item wrapped in fur for me to unwrap when I’m alone. His wrinkled face will smile as he bestows it on me, and his smile will call back to me the earliest of my memories, the morning when, looking up at his face as he now looks up at mine, I first heard from his lips the new name he’d given me. And I’ll remember, too, what I learned many years later: that the name of Sarah was another’s name first, that one so old as Aaron would never have taken a girl of three as his apprentice if not for the other apprentice he’d trained and lost. It will be a moment for the community to welcome me after a lifetime of preparation, a moment for me to mourn the one who came before, though I remember nothing of her except her name. It will be a moment for me to honor her stolen memory, and to hate the Ecosystem for taking her from me.
And then the village will feast on the thing I killed, the life I tore from the Ecosystem in retribution for the pain it has caused me. With a stone pestle, Aaron will smear its blood on my cheeks, and the firestarters will roast its flesh, each member of the community sampling a small bite before they consume the bushmeat caught by the other Sensors. Aaron, as Chief Sensor, will give a speech, and the name of Sarah will be spoken again and again, while the congregation grows drowsy with food and fire. And when he’s finished, I’ll walk to the center of the gathering, and I’ll eat the one part of my kill saved for me, the first and only bite of food I’ll be permitted this day.
I will eat its heart.
In itself, that will be nothing new. I’ve eaten the Ecosystem’s heart every night since I first learned of the one who came before. It has tasted like gall in my throat, but I’ve choked it down just the same.

Only tonight, there will be a difference. Tonight, it will taste good.

About The Author

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). A college teacher by day, he is the author of three science fiction novels for teens and adults: the two-part Survival Colony series (Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls) and the deep-space adventure Freefall. His new book, the YA fantasy Ecosystem, releases on April 22, 2018 (Earth Day). Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.