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Monday, October 20, 2014

Harry Potter From Another Character's Perspective

Unless you've been off of social media/the Internet recently, you probably know that ABC Family played all of the Harry Potter movies this past week. As a long-standing Harry Potter fan, I've read the books over and over again. Watching the movies over the weekend brought up a thought that I've had frequently over the years: I would love to read the books from Ron or Hermione's perspective. So I put together what the first 2 books would look like!

Harry Potter from Another Character's Perspective

Book 1: Ron Weasley & Becoming Best Friends With One of The Most Famous Wizards Alive

- befriending Harry Potter on the train
- horribly insulting and risking my life for an annoying know-it-all
- becoming best friends with her, too
- going through a series of ridiculously difficult tasks to get a special stone

Book 2: Hermione Granger & The Year I Was Petrified By A Giant Snake

- my 2 best friends missing the train and arriving to school in a flying car
- 1 of them hearing things (and me fearing for his mental health)
- oh wait he wasn't hearing things, he can just TALK TO SNAKES
- discovering what was going on way before anyone else (per usual)
- being petrified for the rest of the year instead of dying because of knowing more than anyone else

From whose perspective would you want to read the books? Ron, Hermione, Draco Malfoy, a random Hogwarts student ...? Let me know! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Boston, Zucchini, Fashion, and Pets

It has been a while since I shared a picture recap, so I'm sharing loads of pictures from my Instagram today!

A picture from my dad's college graduation in honor of his birthday // Beautiful Boston afternoon // Making calendars for my graduate school applications
Homemade zucchini fritters // A fall OOTD // Fall decorations
Gus meeting my friend Jessie, who visited Boston one week // Latte and color-coded notes // Piper cuddling is just the cutest!

About to study for the GRE that day // Gus waiting for my parents to get back from Italy because it had just been too long for him // Watching NCIS with Piper
Abby lounging in the sun // Boston has 2 incredible parts to it - old and historic buildings, and nice and modern ones right there // I'm having surgery! (Even if it now has to be postponed a few months) // Taking a snuggle break with Abby // My Berner mug next to my Berner // Gus and Piper snuggling! And yes, she always snuggles up to his butt like that

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blogging & Social Media Confessions

Bringing some blogging confessions to you today!

Blogging Confessions Kate the (Almost) Great

I confess ...

... to feeling a bit of blogger's block lately (especially from all of the writing, proofreading, images, promoting, social media, etc.) and needing a bit of a break, which is actually good timing since I'll be taking a break shortly for my next infusion - let me know if you would be interested in guest posting, by the way!

... to breaking the Instagram "rule" of 1 picture a day unless something really exciting happens, such as a vacation or a holiday, on the regular.

... that I sometimes spend more time on Pinterest browsing than I do actually pinning things.

... that for every blog post I've written, I've rewritten it at least 2-3 times.

... and sometimes I've changed the topic more than once (today was one of those times, by the way).

... and that is also often true for social media.

... to comparing myself to other bloggers - how many followers they have, how many they have on different media sites compared to me, etc. - even though I know that it doesn't really matter.

... to spending more than I probably should have on sponsorships early on.

... to occasionally making my life seem a bit better than it is.

... that sometimes I struggle to write about an original topic, because I don't want to sound like all of the other bloggers out there, but nothing has been talked about like how I talk about it, right?

What are your confessions for blogging or social media?

Plus - my new video!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

10 Reasons Why My Dad is Awesome

Today is a very, very special day. It's my dad's birthday! (Don't forget to go enter to win $20 to Sephora!)

10 Reasons Why My Dad is Awesome

(in no particular order)

1. He drove from Maine to Nashville and back, both times unpacking/reloading the moving van. Oh, and that's a 24-hour drive.

2. He supports me always - but not blindly, and if he initially disagrees with what I think/do, he listens to my reasoning.

3. We have the same sarcastic, dry sense of humor. 

4. He has somehow survived to today (not saying his age!) without serious injury, despite run-ins with chainsaws, hunting knives, trees, homemade roller coaster ...

5. When I was little, he would work a full, long day at work, and then come home and play Barbies with me and my sister.

6. He loves to watch crime shows (which we all know is a huge passion of mine).

7. He gives back to the community, especially UMaine, where he and my mom met.

8. He has an awesome tie collection and wears fun ones on the regular.

Today's your day! Thanks for being incredible.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Favorite Fall Recipe and Giveaway

It's fall, which means pumpkin everything, amiright? I really love to use pumpkin in gluten-free recipes in order to keep them from being too dry. But obviously the taste really helps, too. So I am linking up with Helene and Taylor for Blogtober today! (If you just care about the giveaway, skip down to the bottom.)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

This recipe is based on My Whole Food Life's healthy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I've just made some changes, and you can see my cooking process here.


2 1/2 cups King Arthur GF multi-purpose flour
1/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup Earth Balance non-dairy buttery spread
1 can pumpkin
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1/3 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix wet ingredients in one bowl
3. Mix dry ingredients in another
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry
5. Spoon into muffin tins
6. Bake 12-15 minutes

Easy and delicious!

Sephora Giveaway

This month, we're giving away $20 to Sephora! It ends on Friday, September 17, 2014 at 11:59 PM. I will contact the winner within 48 hours and then you have 48 hours to claim your prize. Good luck!

(PS - want to participate in this in the future? Sponsor me! Costs $5-17.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

World Arthritis Day: What You Can Do

All week I have been talking about arthritis: the facts of it, my story of 13+ years of pain, a giveaway and a video with a quick overview of arthritis and what you can do, and my friend's story of fibromyalgia (an arthritis-related condition). Today is all about what you can do.

How to Help People with Arthritis Kate the (Almost) Great

1. Wear blue on Sunday, October 12 and explain why. Even if you just tweet, "Today, I'm wearing blue for World Arthritis Day."

2. Share some of the information of arthritis on whatever platform you can - social media, a blog, in person to other people you know, whatever. Share the stories of people who live with arthritis (if they give you that permission). Share the truth to the person who makes a disparaging comment about how someone with arthritis should just get over it.

3. Donate to one of the organizations that help people with arthritis, including research and lobbying the law-makers of your country. In the US, some such organizations include The Arthritis Foundation and The Arthritis National Research Foundation. To whomever you donate, make sure that the organization you choose does what you want. Do you want advocacy, research, lobbying? Which is most important? What exactly does the organization you donate to do with your money? To whomever you donate, ensure that they do what you want.

4. Run or walk for a cause. You can join the Arthritis Walk, the Jingle Bell Walk/Run, Race for a Cure, or others that have a similar purpose: the money goes toward arthritis research and advocacy.

5. Buy products or services whose profit goes toward organizations that fund research and advocacy.

There you have it. 5 easy ways to make a difference in the life of over 50 million Americans who have arthritis. And if that's how many have it in America - think of how many people across the world do.

World Arthritis Day 2014 Kate the (Almost) Great

Finally, thank you all who came by this week, sent encouraging words, shared the stories and information from the week, and more. I have shared this information this week in order to spread the word - and you are a part of that. Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart. Have in incredible weekend, and if you do nothing else, wear blue on Sunday.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fibromyalgia & Arthritis

Arthritis is the worst. I have a story about fibromyalgia today - brought to you by my dear friend Emmie, whose story I told in one of my most popular posts - and I'm also going to tell you a bit about fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is considered an arthritis-related condition, so I am including it in this week.

According to the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is a "disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues." The Arthritis Foundation says, "This condition is referred to as a syndrome because it’s a set of signs and symptoms that occur together with no known cause or identifiable reason. Although considered an arthritis-related condition, fibromyalgia is not truly a form of arthritis because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles or other tissues. It is, however, considered a rheumatic condition because it impairs the joints and/or soft tissues and causes chronic pain."

I developed fibromyalgia a couple of years ago, and according to doctors I have consulted, nearly 50% of arthritis patients develop fibro to some degree. Fibro needs to be treated by medications as well as lifestyle changes, and Emmie is an excellent example of how you can live a life containing these lifestyle changes and have it be an excellent one.

Fibromyalgia and arthritis Kate the (Almost) Great

My name is Emmie and I am a dear friend of Kate's from college. She was one of the first people my own age with an arthritic condition that I had ever met, and I am so grateful I did. Without her support, empathy, and guidance, I'm not sure how my own story of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia would have played out. The process was long, slow, and painful, to say the least. I have had chronic pain since I was 14 years old, but after getting a few tests done and having all pronounced "normal" and having all pronounced "normal", I ignored it until I couldn't anymore.

Arthritis and fibromyalgia

I had stomach problems that I knew needed attention, and it was through continual conversation with my wonderful primary care doctor over the course of 2013 that we realized that my symptoms were far beyond the normal range of either gastrointestinal or rheumatological problems. Each time I went back to her, there was a new symptom that was indicative not of stomach problems, but of neurologic and rheumatological problems (fibromyalgia): diffuse, all-body tenderness and pain without an obvious origin; tension headaches; trouble sleeping; poor concentration and short-term memory, what's affectionately known as "brain fog" among spoonies; fatigue that wouldn't go away with rest; and other symptoms that were each manageable on their own, but in tandem, not.

The formal diagnosis of fibromyalgia both crushed me and gave great relief to me. What I thought was 10 unrelated problems now became one diffuse umbrella explaining all of my symptoms, but now I was left with the pieces of a dysfunctional body and an uncertain future. Would I be able to continue my world adventures? My education? My hopes of working a full-time job? I was no longer capable of being the perfectionist I once was, and without that identity, I felt lost for a while. I had been lost already without having known it, but now all of my maps were gone. I only knew how to live my life as a healthy person.

With the help of my family, friends, medical professionals, and God, however, I decided to use the tears, pains, and feelings of being lost to be found again. Slowly but surely, acceptance of my new reality grew in my heart, and soon I felt called to help others accept their lives as well. I became an advocate for people with invisible illnesses (those that cannot be seen with the naked eye). I started a blog called "Illness to Wellness", focusing on physical and mental health, where I teach all I know, share my story, and have the honor of hearing others' - courage is contagious! I may have lost my identity of being a perfectionist, but I gained the incredible identity of being a voice for stigmatized, stereotyped, and misunderstood populations.

fibromyalgia and arthritis

It has been an amazing journey, moving from the teary patient upon first hearing the diagnosis in November 2013 to a role model for taking charge and making as much change as possible in life, while compassionately and lovingly accepting what cannot be changed. I work really hard to maintain my physical and mental health as much as possible. That doesn't mean there are no bad days - trust me, there are - but I am working to be my best. I may not be able to do everything that my peers can, but I cherish what I can do. I am a fiercely loyal friend, a college student and an aspiring medical social worker, an adventurer (when I have the spoons!), a musician and photographer, a human rights activist, an educator, and a daughter of God. I may need to sleep 9 hours a night and devote substantial time to exercise, quiet time, and other health maintenance activities to get through each day, but I fill the other hours with people and activities that I truly love.

If you have someone in your life who has chronic illnesses and they make time for you, let me tell you this: they love you. Time is precious. Some of us have to realize this and come to terms with this more than others do, but it's true for every person. Your time is precious. Fill it with what you love - I know I have.

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