Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The last day of September is here!

Cheesy Nut Thins
Today I tried the Cheddar Cheese Nut Things from Blue Diamond. I'm still not sure whether I like them or not. They're pretty cheesy which is good. They're not bad but not particularly my favorite either.

Anyway, I'm feeling much better today. Now that the wedding is over and life is getting back to normal, I've been thinking a lot about what I'm going to do next concerning my health. I am terrified of those fainting spells and I need to figure out why they happen so that I can make sure that it doesn't happen again. Last winter as soon as I got sick I would end up passed out on the bathroom floor and this year I'm on immune suppressants so the odds of me being sick are pretty good which really freaks me out. I cannot spend another winter in and out of the hospital. I missed more days of work last winter than I have in all the 5 years I've worked here. I'm really going to have to be very strict about my diet. I need to pack as much potassium in as possible, drink fluids until they're leaking out of my eyeballs, and be very careful about not taking in any gluten. I'll be curious to see what The Doc has to say on Friday about my little trip to the ER.

Last night I went over all my finances and determined that I'm going to have all the money that I've borrowed from my parents paid off by Christmas and then hopefully by next Christmas I'll be very close to paying off my credit cards completely. It will be nice if this coming February I can actually take my tax return and spend some of it on myself for once. Usually the money is gone before it even hits my bank account. I could really use some new clothes! As long as I can stick to my budget over the next 3 months, I'll be good to go in January. I already have money set aside for Christmas so that's no problem. I'm just not going to have a lot of weekly cash from now until the end of the year, this month especially, so I have to be very careful about my spending. As long as I can start off the new year without owing myself any money I'll be all set. Easier said than done, but it's only 3 months! I'm in better shape now than I've been in my entire life so let's keep it going.

Ok, I have to get some work done, have a great day!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wedding Weekend...

Lauren & Matt 042

Friday morning I packed up all my things and headed down to Plymouth for the big wedding weekend. I met up with Lauren at her mom's house (my aunt) and together with one of the other bridesmaids and my aunt we headed off to the nail salon. The other girls met us there. Then headed back to the house to get ready for the rehearsal dinner. We got through the rehearsal, no problem. Then it was off to dinner. I had steak tips, potatoes, veggies and 2 or 3 glasses of wine. After that we went over to a bar where a friend of the groom's was playing a gig. This is where the weekend started to turn ugly. They did not have any ciders so I opted for rum and coke. They were serving them to me in 16oz cups. Before I knew it, I was quite tipsy. We went back to my aunt's and stayed there for the night. We had to be up very early to go to the hall to set up the chair covers. I was feeling horrible but I was trying to suck it up. It was my own fault that I drank too much the night before. When we got back to the house I ate a bunch of food and drank a ton of water and took a shower and was feeling a lot better so I sat down to get my makeup done. Not too long into it, I started to feel sick again. I took a break. Tried again, but by now I'm shaky, weak, and my face is actually tingling. Not cool at all. I thought I might die. The thing about it is, I have a history of severe dehydration which leads to fainting episodes that send me to the hospital to have IV treatments. I knew all morning that this was where I was probably heading but I tried really hard to fight it. My sister, knowing me all too well, and all the other girls thought it would probably be a good idea to take a trip to the ER. So yeah. The Maid-of-Honor lands in the emergency room in the middle of the day of her best friend's wedding. I got to the ER and tried not to burst into tears as I explained to the nurse at the desk that I was dehydrated and about to pass out and needed to be back for a wedding in a few hours. The ER staff was so amazing, they rushed me right in and hooked me up to the IV and did the standard blood and urine tests. Came back that I actually did have a urinary tract infection, same thing that happened last time. I don't really get any symptoms when I have these, but they contribute to the dehydration and that's when I go down. I was in the hospital for about 2 hours and they let me go at 3:30. I was back at the house and getting my hair done by 4 and in the limo heading off for pictures by 5. It was a whirlwind! Very emotional, very upsetting, but it all worked out in the end. The wedding was perfect, the reception was awesome, I gave my speech without balling my eyes out even though both the bride and I wanted to at that point. We were both just so happy that I made it. Today I'm just trying to recover. Adrenaline took over last night but today I'm feeling it. This is the 3rd time in the past year that I've landed in the ER because of severe dehydration. The other two times alcohol was not involved, but I was sick both of the other times. It's so frustrating. I was just the other day thinking about how it has been since January that I'd been in that situation and I was hoping that because of the meds and whatnot that I wouldn't go through it again. And then, there I was.

I had an appointment with The Doc on Friday and will be telling him all about it and asking him what he thinks I can do to help this. They just keep telling me to drink a lot of fluids, but I want to know why I'm not able to stay hydrated in the first place. I do drink a lot of fluids already, so what's up? I'm definitely going to ask for the small bowel biopsy. We'll see. Funny thing, I know the photographer because she has shot a bunch of my friends' weddings and I also was talking to her last year about being her second shooter, and I found out yesterday that she has celiac! Crazy. It seems like every time I mention that I'm gluten-free, someone else tells me they are too.

The photo is my place at the table, my salad is blurry, then my table card, and then my bouquet is behind that. I took a lot of pictures and you can see them all at my picasa site.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm totally having Mac & Cheese for dinner tonight.

Yesterday I read Carrie's post about making a white sauce that can be turned into pretty much any kind of sauce you want. Including cheese sauce to put over pasta. Like Macaroni & Cheese. I grew up on the Blue Box and even though I loved the flavor, it never loved me back. I would eat it for dinner and spend the rest of the night nauseated. Nevertheless, I kept eating it anyway. I swore off the Blue Box a long time ago when I originally started this GF journey and since I really had developed such an aversion to mac & cheese from a box, I never particularly cared to try the gluten-free versions out there. Actually, twice, I did try Annie's but I hated it both times. Homemade mac & cheese however, now there's a weakness. My mom makes it the best! I remember the last time I had it, almost 1 year ago, Columbus Day Weekend. I've never been adventurous enough to try to make a white sauce or any other sauce really, but this recipe seems easy enough. I'm still trying to figure out the lactose/casein situation so I do still eat cheese and stuff for now. Last night after kickboxing I had to go to CVS to get my prescription so I stopped at the grocery store on the way back and picked up some cheese because tonight I'm totally going to try to make it myself.

Today is my Friday on a Thursday and I can't wait for 5 o'clock. Then it's off to get ready for the big wedding weekend! So excited. That means this blog may be kind of quiet for a few days but stay tuned for the wedding recap with lots of photos!! One thing I'm going to do tonight/tomorrow is pack a bag of food since I won't be home until Sunday. I'm staying at my aunt's house on Friday night and a hotel on Saturday night so I need to be sure that I have plenty of GF foods to keep me going. Ok well if I don't make it back here before next week, have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Glutino Gluten Free Crackers

Glutino Veggie Crackers
These were another sample from the GF Cooking Spree. I like the cheddar ones enough, so I thought I'd give these a try. First thoughts - they taste like pizza. Oregano? Basil? Peppers and Onions? I don't know what it is, but they taste like pizza. I ate some last night and some again today and I still feel the same way. But I like them. If you made a little bruschetta topping for these I think that would be awesome. Or just eat them with cheese. Yum.

My obsession with the Food Network

I was first introduced to the Food Network by my ex-boyfriend's mother. She is a great cook and if there was no football on, she'd often be watching cooking shows. I used to watch her cook and then steal her tricks when cooking for T. I still think of her often when I cook. She is more of a Paula Deen type of cook, she loves butter and heavy cream. She also introduced me to wine in a box, but that's another blog post entirely...

It's only been the past year or so that I've been watching TFN regularly. By "regularly" I mean that whenever you turn on any of the tv's in my house, it will inevitably be tuned to that channel. Some of my favorites are Paula Deen(read her book, it's very inspiring!), Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, Guy Fieri.. I like most of the FN chefs, but lately I've developed a special love for the one and only Alton Brown.

When I saw Good Eats for the first time, I thought Alton was just annoying. But then I started watching the show for the content rather than his over-use of the "ah" phrase and I realized that Good Eats is actually the perfect show for me. I am one of those people that needs to know how things work. Alton not only shows you how to cook things the right way, he shows you WHY you need to cook things that way. I wish I had known 20 years ago that I love the science of things so much. I would've paid a lot more attention in school. I also probably would've been a nutrition major in college. Last night I saw an episode about popovers and it was fascinating. I love learning about how foods work with each other. A lot of this comes from gluten-intolerance and trying to figure out how gluten works so that one day I might be able to come up with the perfect gluten-free recipes for breads, cakes, pies, etc.

People often ask me how I can watch the Food Network so much without a. going crazy with hunger and b. going crazy because I can't eat most of the stuff they make. Funny thing is, watching it doesn't make me hungry usually, and if it does I just shut it off and go get something to eat! As far as being gluten-free is concerned, well for one thing, not all of the foods they cook are glutenous, and two - if they are, I like to think of ways I can make the recipes gluten-free. I just love food and love getting new ideas and tips from the chefs. If there's one thing in this world that we all have in common, it's that we all need to eat. Food brings us together and that's why I enjoy watching Food Network. It's probably the happiest channel on tv, not even the Cartoon Network is this much fun. I just wish I had more time and money to try all these recipes out! Not to mention the metabolism of a 5 year old...

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nesting Season

Fall and Winter are the days for comfort foods. Most of which are filling, fattening, gluteny dishes. Last night I found myself making a list of foods that I want to try to make GF versions of. Chicken pot pie is my all-time favorite comfort food. I used to buy Mrs. Budd's brand with the thick crust on top and serve it over rice or mashed potatoes. YUUUUUM. Then I'd sit on the couch feeling like I had just dined on a dish of wet cement.. but the taste was too delicious to pass up! Now that Mrs. Budd's is off my radar, I am in the market for a good GF alternative. I've been stocking up on recipes that I've borrowed from all you awesome GF cooks out there and I might even have one already in my files but if you have a good recipe please pass on the link! I also am going to buy some glutino pretzels and make chocolate covered pretzels one of these days. Maybe for Halloween, ooh yeah, that sounds good! I also am really in the mood for corn bread, maybe with some chili... oh my gosh, so much for losing a couple pounds!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

And then it was fall.

New Hair 9-08
Here's the new 'do, you like? I used to be so good at the long arm shots, but now with the pumpkin face I can never find a good angle that doesn't give me seventeen chins. I'm working on that. Saturday for the first time in a long time I actually started to feel like some of this weight is coming off! YAY! Two more weeks until I go back to see The Doc and hopefully he'll say OK let's get you off these steroids.
I showed the stylist a picture of what I wanted my hair to look like. Keep in mind that yesterday morning, may hair was more than halfway down my back. I knew it needed to be brought up some to get rid of the dead ends but I didn't want to go too far, but I did want a lot of layers. I was going for Sarah Nielson hair. The picture I showed her was actually this one:

Yes, that's Kristen Cavallari, but I don't care that she's from Laguna Beach, I just liked her hair!
So yeah, the 21 year old girl, aka "stylist" set to cutting. and cutting. and cutting. and then she was done and the other stylist gasped a little at the HUGE pile of my beautiful hair that was all over the floor. I didn't get emotional though, I knew I needed a change, and it's hair. It will grow back. I hope. Soon.
Listen, I can't afford Newbury Street, so the local mall hair salon is where I get what I pay for. At least I didn't go to Super Cuts. Anyway, I like it. It's a change. I walked through the mall and heads were turning. I don't know if that's because I looked super hot or people were thinking please tell me where you got your hair cut so I DON'T go there. I'm going to keep telling myself that it was the former.

I've been doing very very well lately on my gluten free journey. Hardly any slips. Feeling pretty good. And I've been good about cutting back on the sugar too, despite my many brownie trials. Those are done now. I haven't bought waffles in a few weeks, because otherwise I eat them for dinner every night, lathered in syrup. Oh, and I also now eat bananas on a regular basis. Go me. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Relaxing Sunday Evening.

Prepping for the week
The weekend, let's see, where did I leave off? Oh my, I haven't even posted since Thursday! That's because Friday I worked every single second of the day. I didn't even stop for lunch until after 2pm! It was insanity. Friday night I stayed in, watched Smart People again, cried like a fool because that's what I do when I watch any movie really..
Woke up early Saturday, showered, attempted to de-puff my eyes, and set off to the Y for a long day of CPR certification. Got out at 3:30, spent the afternoon cleaning and then went out to dinner with the some of the kickboxers for Pat's birthday. Got up this morning and planned out the day. I needed to go shopping, do laundry, grocery shop and then cook food for the week.
This is it, the final week leading up to Lauren's wedding. I can't wait! I have Friday off so that's even better. Today I planned food to get me through Thursday and tonight I did all the cooking, that's what the picture is. One pot of pasta, one pot of rice, one skillet of chicken with peppers and onions. The chicken can either be eaten with rice, or mixed into pasta sauce and put with the pasta. I also hard boiled eggs. I should be good to go for the whole week! Finally I'm learning to plan ahead. It's just now 10pm, my homework is done, my food is read, everything's in line for Monday. I love that!!! Oh yeah, and I finally went and got my hair cut today. It was so very long and the ends were very ratty and it was just flat and lame and I loved how long it was but hated that it was hideously boring. She chopped off like 6 inches, so much, I am not all that happy about that but it'll grow back. I needed it. it's full of layers and a long sideways "bang" kinda, I was not ready to commit to full bangs yet. I took pictures but wasn't a fan of any of them so I didn't upload them. I'll try to take a better one tomorrow.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And more thoughts about brownies...

I know, this is at least my 3rd mention of brownies this month. I'm sorry, apparently that's all I can bake these days! What can I say, they are quick and easy to make and I clearly love them. Last night after I failed at tried making salmon cakes, I decided to whip up the Bob's Red Mill GF Brownie mix that I had received in my goodie bag at the cooking spree. So far I have made them from scratch, tried the Trader Joe's mix, tried Foods by George pre-made version, and now trying Bob's Red Mill. This mix required one and half sticks of melted butter (!!) and in the finished product you can definitely taste it. I like these brownies, but they're more like cake. I'd definitely put frosting on them and serve them up that way. As far as brownies go, I'm still sticking with the from-scrath version or Trader Joe's mix.
Bob's Red Mill Brownies
Here's a rather unflattering picture of them. See how dense they are? These two were from the center of the pan, definitely more gooey than the edges, but still like cake. I just ate one, I don't like the after-taste. I won't buy this mix again. Sorry Bob!

As for the salmon cakes, well I made them according to Tonya's blog comment but I made a few executive chef decisions that I don't think I was supposed to make. 1. I drained the water from the can. 2. I used a smaller can than I think I was supposed to. And so I had over-cooked, dry piles of corn meal filled with onions and a little bit of salmon. I ate them anyway, and they weren't so bad! Of course now my house smells like fish, which reminds me why I never cook fish inside the house. Oh well. At least I got to use my can of salmon, which interestingly enough smells just like tuna, and so I will probably use it more like Kath does, for lunch and stuff. Much better than the canned crab experiment. I'm also now paranoid that my clothes smell like fish since my bedroom is right next to the kitchen...

But hey, it's FRIDAY! Three cheers for the weekend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Are You Motivated?!

Steve, Me, Patrick
These are the boys that keep me in fighting shape. Steve is the kickboxing instructor and Pat is his faithful sidekick (aka backup instructor). Tomorrow is Pat's birthday!! Last night was the first night of the fall session and it was full of new people but it was still a really good class. And since I'd been kinda slacking on getting to class over the summer session, of course I need to get my butt kicked. I realized yesterday that I'm only hurting myself and wasting his time when I don't show up to class and so I will be trying harder to get there. I'm already missing the first two Saturdays but I have legit reasons so I can't help it! Anyway, good class, I have a TON of work to do this afternoon and I can't believe more than half the day is already gone, so I'm out. Happy Thursday!

Kicking Ass and Taking Names

This is my Gram. This weekend is her birthday, but she passed in 2003. I think of her and miss her always. My artistic talents come from her, I am so very lucky!

I talked to Joan today from GF Great Bakes. She's going to be at the Healthy Villi Fall Meeting
on Sunday 10/5 selling her goods. I sent an email to Good Health yesterday asking them to start carrying Joan's items but after talking to Joan today I realize it's going to take a lot of pressure from the customers to make it happen. Is anyone a member of Healthy Villi? Anyone want to go to the meeting on 10/5 with me? I'm not sure I will make it but I just thought I'd put it out there.

My 7th session of kickboxing starts tonight! I'm so excited that Liz will be joining me at class!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Today's Samples

GF Brownie from Foods by George
Today I tried the GF Brownie from Foods by George that I picked up at the cooking spree. Since I made (and ate) a pan of brownies on Sunday I'm a little bit brownied out but I wanted try it anyway. I have to say that I prefer the ones I made at home based on GF Steve's recipe and also the ones Lauren made last week from the Trader Joe's mix. This brownie was good, but it tasted like most packaged brownies I've tasted. Not the worst I've tried, not the best I've tried. That's pretty much all I have to say about that.

I also have been munching on the Bhuja snack mix. Today I've been eating the red bag, which is the original mix. It's spicy! I like it. I also have the green bag, cracker mix, less spicy but still delicious.

Yesterday I tried the Glutino Cheddar Crackers. They were not as cheddary as I'd hoped they'd be, but they were still good. Just 3 or 4 of them satisfies my need for crackers and the hint of cheddar flavor makes these my preferred choice over the original flavor.

Oh, I almost forgot! Yesterday I ate the chocolate chip cookies that came in my goodie bag from Joan's GF Great Bakes. HELLO Toll House Cookies!!! These were hands down, the closest to the chocolate chip cookies I grew up with. I raved about Glutenus Minimus on Saturday but I hadn't tried Joan's yet. (I still love Glutenus Miniumus!) Joan, you rock my world, now how can we get your products into my local stores?!

My first t-shirt design!

MSPCA T Shirts
Here they are!! The MSPCA Angell Walk for Animals t-shirts with my design!! The blue shirt with white logo were the volunteer shirts and the white ones were for the participants and have all the logos of the sponsors on the back. This really was pretty much my first attempt at a vector logo, nevermind the very first t-shirt design. I'm pretty excited about it and just had to share.

I finally picked up a new book to read. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. When Randy gave his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon and it hit YouTube I started watching it, then downloaded the transcript and started reading it. I found it a little difficult to read, not sad so much as kind of long so I ended up putting it aside. Well now the book is out and I knew I had to have it. I saw it in Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago but I didn't buy it at that time. Sunday I was shopping with my sister when I spotted it in Target and without hesitation I grabbed it. I actually said outloud "I have to buy this right now, it's speaking to me." I know, I'm strange, but it's true. I finished it this morning on the train. I noticed that the guy standing next to me kept looking at me and at first I'm thinking hey, maybe he thinks I'm cute.. and then I realized that no, he's just wondering why my chin is shaking uncontrollably and my eyes are about to overflow. If you're looking for a little inspiration, definitely read this book. Randy died not too long ago and it breaks my heart, he was a great man and I'm thankful that he put his story out there to inspire others to be great as well.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Today's Samples

Thanks to the cooking spree, I didn't have to do much grocery shopping this week. I started the day with a Soy Joy bar of the berry variety. The taste reminded me a little bit of a nutri-grain bar but with real fruit bits in it. For 130 calories, 4g of protein, and 3 grams of fiber, it was a pretty good thing to grab on the go. I might be buying some more of these.

For a mid-morning snack I had 2 Pamela's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. Ohh how I loved these. Over the summer I had picked up two boxes of Pamela's Peanut Butter cookies and I hated them, they were flat and soft and not good at all. These were the real deal. Delicious and 80% organic!

This afternoon I snacked on some Food Should Taste Good Jalapeno flavored chips. They were pretty good, although I'm still a bigger fan of the Buffalo flavor. I tried most of their flavors last night and they were all very good. I really like looking at the ingredients list and seeing just a few, easily recognizeable ingredients. All nautural tastes so good! I love when I go back to the non-all-natural stuff and it tastes gross. I had some Cool Ranch Doritos with my lunch yesterday and I really could've gone without them.

No photos today, I think I posted enough of those yesterday! The wedding is now less than two weeks away and if you noticed my latest flickr upload, you can probably tell that I'm not at all happy with where I'm at weight wise. But I realize after doing that timeline that it's mostly the medication and it's out of my hands at this point. All I can do is eat as healthy as possible and get my exercise in and just wait until The Doc gives me the OK to ditch the steroids. I think I'm going to start taking Aprovechar's approach to things, she seems to have gotten it right!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2008 Boston Gluten-Free Cooking Spree

Finally, after months of anticipation, I got to go to the Gluten Free Cooking Spree last night, put on by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. What an awesome event! I met a lot of new people and ate a TON of delicious food. It was really amazing to be able to just eat and eat and eat without worrying about gluten. I know there are a lot of people out there with multiple food issues, I myself should be careful about lactose/casein but for now I'm just focusing on the gluten. I'm happy to say that although I walked out of there feeling like an over-stuffed sack, it was only fullness and not illness and today I feel great. That itself is just really great. My parents asked me today again if I think that it's possible that I have Celiac in addition to Crohn's, because I feel so much better when I'm gluten free. I can't say that I don't still wonder about it, but since I'm already going gluten free, is it worth it to push for further testing? I still don't know about that. Maybe at my next visit with The Doc I will ask him what he thinks about doing the Upper GI biopsy. Anyway, back to the important stuff!

I arrived very early to the event because I had signed up to volunteer, so I got to meet Vanessa and that was pretty cool. I bought her book over a year ago and was excited to finally meet her. I spent some time helping out but everything was running so smoothly that I had some time to just hang out with the vendors, try their foods and take some samples. At 7:30 the event began and that's when the fun started. Allie and Julia arrived with their boyfriends and I spent the rest of the evening hanging out with them, eating, drinking and having a great time. We started at the dinner line and then went into the vendor room so the photos below are a little out of order, but they tell the story of the night very well so I'll just go with it as is. There were two rooms, the main ballroom was where the cooking competition and dinner were held and there was a separate room with all of the vendor tables. I'll start with the vendor tables.

The favorite of the night by far was Joan's Gluten Free Great Bakes. She was serving up the most delicious bagels the three of us have ever tasted. Joan was great to talk to and the reviews of her products across the internet are nothing but stellar. She was giving out gift bags with english muffins in them for today's breakfast. I ate mine this afternoon for lunch as a tuna melt. It was FANTASTIC. The most delicious gluten-free bread product I've ever tasted. There were also two chocolate chip cookies in the goodie bag which I haven't tried yet but I am sure they are going to be amazing. I can't recommend her products highly enough, go order some now!! The shipping is expensive because of the packaging so order a lot at a time, share with friends, do whatever you have to do, just order them! Sorry I didn't get any photos of this one! I was too distracted by the deliciousness.

Next up on my list of favorites is Glutenus Minimus cookies. Natalie was diagnosed with Celiac when she was 21 and in college. After struggling to find good gluten-free cookies, and with the help of her mom, she came up with her own recipes and is now in business for herself. These are really really delicious cookies. They're soft, chewy, fresh and taste as close to the real thing as you can get. In fact, I'd say they even are better than most gluten cookies out there!

Little Bay Baking Company sells baking mixes and last night they were offering muffins and chocolate chip bars that were very tasty and moist, not at all crumbly. I was told that there baked goods will stay moist for days after baking!

I am a big fan of the various chips made by Food Should Taste Good. I grabbed a bag of Jalapeno flavored to take home but my favorite was the Buffalo style. They are really nice people and their chips are awesome. They even make chocolate flavored chips! I hear they're good heated up and topped with ice cream.

I grabbed a bag of Bhuja cracker mix, it's a delicioius alternative to Chex Mix.

Mary's Gone Crackers & Brownies from Foods by George

When was the last time I had a soft pretzel?? Finally last night I got to enjoy one, guilt free, thanks to Noah's Pretzels. They were setup so that you could take a plain pretzel and top it with your choice, mustard, marinara sauce, cinnamon and sugar, parmesan cheese.. I chose the marinara and it was delicious. The sauce was Stop & Shop, Simply Enjoy, I'm probably going to add that to my shopping list too!

I think we all were looking forward to this the most, we hadn't made it up there since we cancelled our trip over the summer but luckly Flatbread Pizza was there serving up the good stuff. Nice crispy crust and fresh tasty toppings.

Allie & Matt Enjoying Flatbread

There was also a table for Pepperoncini of Framingham Mass and for some reason I neglected to take any pictures, but their pizza was awesome. Your basic, classic cheese pizza. I will definitely make the drive out to Framingham to get some more of it.

I had seen this soup at Whole Foods but wasn't too excited about buying it. After trying it last night I will definitely pick some up next time. I only got to try the clam chowder, but being a Plymouth girl I am PICKY about my chowder and this was excellent. Check out Kettle Cuisine and here is Allie enjoying some of the clam chowder.

There was a yummmmmy Chocolate Fountain

Stop & Shop sponsored the event and they were there to hand out insulated shopping bags to collect all the goodies. This is where we got in line to taste the food that was being cooked by the competitors.

Julia and Allie getting some chicken wings from one of the competitors.

The gluten-free alcohol for the evening. Woodchuck cider, Magners cider, Redbridge beer. YUM!

Woodchuck Amber & Snack Mix

This is the part that I'm totally bummed about. Since we went through the competitors line and then the vendor rooms first, we missed this amazing buffet that was put out by Not Your Average Joe's and Yan's China Bistro. The foods looked AMAZING and we didn't even realize what was over there. I hope they come back next year, I will be first in line! At least I got some pictures to drool over. We were just too full to stuff in any more food at this point...
Gluten-Free Italian food!!! Oh how I wish I had tasted this...

Vita from Celia Cakes supplied the main desert. I had heard about her cakes before but last night I finally got to try some. What they say is true, absolutely wonderful. When I get married someday, I know who I'm calling!!!!
Not only delicious but beautiful!

We weren't sure if these were Kinnikinnick or not, but they were awesome donuts!

The award for best gluten-free dish in Boston went to Top of the Hub.

Bullet Head provided the entertainment at the end of the night.

Me, Julia, Allie and Sally. Boston Gluten-Free Girls, stuffed full and happy. What a great night!!

I finally made it home by 11pm, exhausted and ready for bed, but first I had to unpack all of my treasures.

This was a really great event to promote Celiac awareness and give all of us an awesome, stress free, gluten-free night out. I can't wait for next year!!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Today's the day!!

Brownies 001
The gluten-free cooking spree is today!!! I can't wait. Since I don't have to be there until 5, I've spent the morning just hanging out and cooking. I made my first attempt at oatmeal. I failed miserably. It was horrible. Not cooked enough. YUCK. So I dumped it and had cereal instead. Then I sat around watching Food Network and trolling the internet and suddenly felt inspired to bake brownies. I had all the ingredients on hand so I set to work. I used GF Steve's recipe again, it's now my old standby and I love it. I used canola oil this time instead of olive oil and I liked the flavor better. I also cooked them a little less time and they were more gooey and yummy. I also was more careful about paying attention to the steps of the recipe. This is definitely the best batch I've made so far.

Now it's almost 11:30, I'm still hanging out in my pajamas, and I'm debating over what I'm going to do before I have to start getting ready for the cooking spree. Probably have another brownie. Maybe I should finish up my schoolwork and get it uploaded so that I don't have to worry about it tomorrow. Yeah that sounds like a pretty good idea.

I'll be back to recap the cooking spree tomorrow or Monday. Have a great weekend everyone!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm such a blogger nerd...

My stat counter just hit 4,000. Considering that this blog has only been up a few months, I'd say that's pretty nice. Thanks to all you readers out there!!!!!

Friday for real now.

Belle Cruise 154
All week I've been a day ahead of myself, yesterday I thought all day that it was Friday. Imagine my sadness every time I realized it was only Thursday. Finally, Friday has arrived. Last night was a disaster. I went home in a relatively good mood. I had no food in the house so I went first to Stop & Shop and then to Good Health. I've been buying Kinnikinnick white bread because it's soft like Whole Foods sandwich bread but it's not as big. I used to hate that GF bread was so small but now I actually prefer it. I went over to the frozen section at Good Health to grab the bread and I stood there for a good 10 minutes staring at all the other options they have. They have all the Chebe breads that Allie has tried, which made me want to buy them, they have Kinnikinnick donuts, which I'm dying to try, they have tons of pizza options, one of which was reviewed by Marlow and I actually picked it up to buy it but put it back for another day. Funds are tight right now, and since all of this stuff is so expensive I have to be choosy about what I buy. I got the bread of course, and I also got a box of Lara's Rolled Oats because I used to love oatmeal so much and also a package of Quinoa because I'm totally curious to try it. Ok so shopping turned out fine, no problem there.

I got home and all hell broke loose. A series of events occured from the second I walked in the door that ended with my last bottle of Magners smashed all over the floor and me snapping at my roommate so that although I did apologize we did not speak for the rest of the evening. I just shut myself in my room and cried. (ETA: The bottle fell out of the fridge when I was unloading groceries, I didn't throw it or anything like that!) I cannot tell you exactly what it was that made me fly off the handle, it was a combination of things, but the whole situation just sucked. I spent the rest of the night washing dishes, because that's one thing that helps me relax (seriously? yes, I'm crazy) and I cooked up some ground beef with peppers and onions and it was bland so I made some scrambled eggs and toast. My ultimate comfort food. Then I went to bed early. I feel better today but I'm still not entirely thrilled about the events of this week. Anyway, the good news is it's Friday and I have a very fun weekend planned so let's leave the past in the past and move on.
This photo was taken last summer on a sunset cruise in Plymouth Harbor. The sun calms me, from sunrise to sunset. I have hundreds of pictures of the sun and I'll probably take thousands more over my lifetime. It's absolutely beautiful.

Happy Friday Everyone!

P.S. If anyone has any good Quinoa or Oatmeal tips for me I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oh how I love cake...

Check out this post on Celiac Chicks about Kickass Cupcakes in Somerville. I've known about this place for awhile, yet have never been. And why not???? Soon I will go. Ladies? A field trip is in order!

Kickass Cupcakes has Gluten Free cupcakes!

378 Highland Avenue
Davis Square
Somerville, MA 02144

And after posting this, I realized that my website (colors) now slightly resembles Celiac Chicks... that was totally not intentional. But I'm not changing it. So there.

P.S. Do you love how earlier today I was complaining about not eating sugar? Moderation is key of course...

Another new blog header?! Yup!

Do you want to know why I change my blog header so often? Because I'm always learning. This blog is the best place for me to try out my experiments. First I was designing blog headers in Photoshop and now I've moved on to Illustrator. I design it, save it, see if it works, leave it up for a while, get bored with it, learn a new trick or technique, and design another. The life of an aspiring graphic designer. I have the daunting task of designing a brand new site for our printing company and I'm totally over-whelmed by it so in the meantime, I learn new tricks here. I play with the HTML coding, see how it work, design web images, see if they work, it's all part of my master plan. I don't really know what that master plan is yet, but I swear, this is all part of it! This particular header I think is pretty boring but that's what I was going for. I wanted one that did not incorporate a photo, contrary to my adoration for photo & text blog headers. For those of you who read dooce you probably have figured out that I'm insanely envious of her blog header design skills. Most recently she mentioned a book of clip art that she uses for her designs and eluded to the fact that there are lots of other books out there that are useful. Why do I not think of these things?! I am so not in-the-know about graphic design stuff. Anyway, I hope you like the new, if not temporary, header.

Sugar, oh Honey Honey

Well, I've pretty much determined that sugar and I are not very good friends. I eat Van's GF Waffles all the time (with syrup I mean) and lately I've noticed that I don't feel so good after eating them. I also eat Pamela's Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Chunk cookies on a regular basis and they aren't nice to me either. There are other foods too that bother me and when you add it all up and divide by the common denominator you get sugar. My roommate is currently studying for the GMAT can you tell it's affecting me too? These are the last 3 cookies from my last box of Pamela's for a while. I think I need to take a break from the sugar and see how it goes. I could use less sugar in my life anyway, it's not so good for you, so I've heard. On a more positive note, I've been very good about avoiding gluten and I'm feeling better and better. Speaking of sugar not being good for you, have you seen the new commercials about High Fructose Corn Syrup? sigh.. shakes head.. Of course those adds are paid for by the corn refiners of America. No lie, watch the bottom of the screen when you see the commercial. I still hold firm that HFCS is the devil.

I had a new comment from Marlow of Gluten Hates Me But I'm Surviving this morning and I was so excited because I have not seen her blog before and it's a good one, so go check her out! I do pay attention to my stats, so I know how many visitors I get but I don't get a lot of comments so I never really know who's reading. Of course there are a select few that comment and I know they read regularly but the rest are a mystery so it's always nice to have a new comment every now and then! I'm always looking for new blogs to read, especially gluten-free blogs, and because of Marlow's blog and blogroll I added 7 new blogs to my feeds. I have not updated my blogroll lately but I actually have 35 gluten-free blogs in my Bloglines reader that I follow. Anyway, so if I you're reading my blog and think that I'm not reading yours, please let me know so I can find you!

This weekend I'm so excited to be hanging out with my Boston Gluten-Free Girls! Tomorrow night I'll be with The Good Eatah at a photo exhibition and Saturday with Allie at the Gluten Free Cooking Spree. Tickets are still available and Vanessa Maltin is going to be there. Maybe I'll bring my Beyond Rice Cakes so she can sign it for me, such a dork. Ooh she totally updated her blog, it looks great, go check it out!

Edited to add: You know, while writing this post, I didn't even think about the fact that the name of this blog is Sugar & Spice... how ironic.

Never Forget 9.11.01

Vaca 08 038

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting over the hump.

Ok, so this picture is not very pretty but I just felt like sharing my go-to lunch when I didn't bring anything from home. This is my Souper Salad staple. Of course it's huge but the only unhealthy thing on it is a sprinkling of bacon and the ranch dressing and it's loaded with protein so that's good. I had already eaten everything off the top so you can't really see what was in it. Here is what I usually have:
Romaine & Spinach
Grape Tomatoes
Red Onion
Hard Boiled Egg
A little Bacon (the real kind, not bits)
Ranch Dressing
today I added some dry tuna on the side, yum.
I love this salad, so delicious!

I'm feeling a lot better today. Yesterday I was totally depressed, I was upset because I couldn't go to the wake last night for Jo's mom because I had to work and couldn't get anyone to cover for me. I was upset because she lost her mom and I can't even begin to imagine how awful that feels. I was having a bad day and I was feeling exhausted and useless and it made me want to cancel my whole weekend and just hibernate. I was supposed to call in for an orientation for volunteering at the GF Cooking Spree but I was so down and out I just decided I was going to forget about it. By the time I got home at 10pm I was completely wiped out and my bed was the most comforting thing in the world. I could barely get out of bed this morning, I've been late to work every day this week. But I got here, and not too long into the morning I got a call from Stefanie from the NFCA and Celiac Central. I apologized for missing the call-in orientation and she said no worries. I didn't mention that I was planning on bitching out on her, I instantly made up my mind that I was going to suck it up and do what I had promised to do. So I'll be there on Saturday, hanging out around the vendor tables most of the night but also wandering around, trying the food and having fun and I'm now looking forward to it again. I'm glad I never sent that email to Stefanie saying that I wasn't going to make it. I need and want to go to this event!

Tonight I only have to work until 7 and there's no kickboxing so I can just go home and relax. And I might just try that salmon recipe!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Feels like Wednesday, but really it's only Tuesday

Scoops and Dip
Snack time! They sell these smaller bags of chips and say that there are 6 servings in the bag. Really? How many people actually get 6 servings out of a bag like that? I don't usually eat chips and dip as a snack at work, dip is usually saved for special occasions but today I was feeling it. I thought I might be able to eat only a portion of the bag of chips and save some for maybe a snack tomorrow. Not so much. The entire bag of Fritos is gone. I just love them. I don't eat them very often so this bag stood no chance. There's plenty of dip leftover though, so tomorrow I'll make sure to bring in the tortilla chips that I have at home for a snack tomorrow. I'll also make sure to put just ONE serving into a ziplock bag so I don't go nuts like I did today. I got a Sprite Zero to wash it all down because even though it's still chemical filled soda, it has no calories. I feel like one of those people that orders a super sized meal at the drive through and a diet coke. Oh well, I'm over it. I didn't eat much for lunch today. Yesterday I was reading a blog about someone that ate salmon out of a can for lunch and I was like what? Salmon in a can? You mean like tuna? Well I'll be damned. So I had to go to Stop & Shop last night and check it out. Since the tuna is on the bottom shelf and all the other random seafood is on the top shelf, I never noticed that they not only have Salmon in a can but they also have crab meat! Like real crab meat that's gluten free, not the imitation stuff, because I used to love imitation crab once in a blue moon in a seafood salad. I was so pumped to try it today. I opened the can and drained the water out and found something that might have once been crab meat but today? Not so much. I figured I'd give it a shot anyway, mixed it up with some mayo, put it on iceberg lettuce and took a taste. Wow, seriously? SALTY! Yuck. Totally bummed. Luckily I had a baked potato so I ate that instead. And now here I am after 3pm, starving and gorging on Fritos. Lesson learned. I bought some salmon too and I'll try that also but I'm pretty sure the only canned fish I'll be buying on a regular basis is tuna. I love love love tuna. It never gets old.

There is nothing left in my house to eat even though I spent over $60 on food on Sunday night. How the hell does that happen?? Poor planning I guess. I do have frozen chicken and ground beef that I could defrost and do something with. But tonight I work until 10 so that pretty much means I'm gonna have to wing it tomorrow and then tomorrow night I can cook up some stuff for Thursday and Friday.

The good news is, I'm fully back to gluten-free and starting to feel much better. I'm still going every week for blood work and still on 3 medications until October 3rd. I have been feeling very run down which concerns me since this medication can cause blood issues. I'm hoping that The Doc is monitoring my blood work and if there is anything bad going on he'll alert me to it. I just have to keep fueling myself with the right stuff, and by "right stuff" I mean NOT Fritos and dip.

This weekend is the Gluten-Free cooking spree which I was supposed to be volunteering at but I have to bow out. This week is not going the way I had hoped and I just can't be there.

I found out that my friend's mother died. So so so so sad. There are no words. I feel horrible. She had bypass surgery about a month ago and I hadn't heard anything since and now I just found out that she has just recently passed.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

food, food, food.

There's nothing like the support of those closest to you when you're faced with a challenge like living gluten-free. My cousin Lauren is my best friend for life, we've been like sisters since she was born, when I was nine months old. She's getting married three weeks from today and this weekend is her fiance's bachelor party weekend so she planned to have her bridal party over last night. Yesterday I vowed to seriously stop slacking and be super careful about being gluten-free and was feeling better about everything. When I got to her house she had put out chips and dips and cheese and crackers and wine, etc. As soon as I walked in she said "Everything is gluten-free except the crackers, and I made gluten-free brownies too!" it was so awesome. My whole family is supportive of me of course but I think it's confusing and over-whelming for them to understand what being gluten-free really means so most of the time I just feel very alone dealing with it. I felt so great that she went to such great lengths to make sure I had food to eat last night. The brownies were great, it was a mix from Trader Joes. This photo is us getting ready for my sister's wedding last October. I was so skinny!! I am not looking forward to the pictures from Lauren's wedding but oh well.

Today I went to my cousin Eric's birthday party and I did not cheat at all. There were these giant double chocolate cookies that I was eyeing all day but I did not have one. It feels pretty good. I'm feeling better. Tomorrow is the Patriots first game of the regular season so I'm pretty excited about that! It's a tropical storm up here so I'll probably just stay around home. I have the usual laundry and food shopping and homework to do too. Oh Sundays...

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Starting Over... Again

This is the Buddha statue that sits in my uncle's garden. I just have to remember to slow down, take it easy, and stay focused. I'm feeling better today. I am making a vow today to stop with the bullshit and just do what I have to do. No more excuses, no more whining, no more slip ups when no one's looking. Cracking down! A friend was recently told that she should probably go gluten-free and might have Celiac, but then said no more words about it. That makes me want to bang my head against a wall. I feel bad for her, she's now struggling to find her way and without the support of a good doctor that knows what he/she is talking about, it's tough to find the answers that you need. Going gluten-free is hard enough as it is, but when the option is left up to you without any solid reasons as to why you should be doing this, that pretty much makes it nearly impossible. I try to give her as much info as I can without seeming like the gluten-free police, especially since it's something that I struggle with so much, but I just want her to be well informed about what she's dealing with here. I sent her my Gluten-Free Bible and gave her all my web links. I hope she finds her way. I'm determined to find my way too.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fun Times

From King Richard's Faire

It's that time of year again, King Richard's Faire is back in town until October 19th. This is a pic of the guys last year trying to climb Jacob's Ladder. You get 3 chances to climb to the top and none of them made it. I was so sick when we went last year, I was just getting over one of the worst stomach viruses I've ever had. I wandered around the faire in a daze because I was so weak and tired, I had lost 12 pounds and was wasting away to nothing at that point. It would be another 8 months before I was diagnosed with Crohn's and in the meantime I got sick again over the winter. I wish I could say I was doing much better these days but the truth is, it's a slow road to healing. Although I have gained back all plus more of the weight I lost... yeah that's not what I was hoping for! Oh well. Today I am dehydrated, exhausted, sore, weak, and super cranky. Yup, I've been slipping up on the gluten big time lately. What will it take for me to commit to it once and for all? I don't know. Another visit to the ER after I pass out from severe dehydration again? Because if I stay on the path that I'm on, that's what's going to happen. It's good for me to look at that picture and try to remember how horrible I felt that day. I want to go this year and be able to spend the whole day there without any issues.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Legs bothering you?

I'm still having a lot of cramping in my legs and feet and I noticed that last night they were really bad and I was wondering if it had anything to do with the amount of sugar in my diet. I had a little bit of a bedtime snack last night of Pamela's double chocolate chunk cookies (yuuuuum) and the cramps last night were one of the worst nights yet. I did a little google searching on the topic and came across this little gem of advice for those suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome:

"Many people suffering from nocturnal leg cramps or RLS report that their symptoms improve when a bar of plain soap is placed underneath the sheets."

Can you imagine that? I put a bar of soap in my bed and magically my leg cramps disappear! Thank you internet for saving my sleeps... I wonder how many people have a)actually tried this and b)thought it really worked.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wake me up when September ends.

Me & My sister on her 25th birthday!
My sister and me at Plymouth Beach on Sunday. It was her 25th birthday, as well as my mom's, and we all went out to dinner at Stoneforge in Plymouth (the old Bert's). We were being all touristy, even though we are from Plymouth... geeks we are.

My labor day weekend was not as laborious as I thought it was going to be. Saturday I showed up at Diana and Jonny's to help them move and the guys had already done most of the work. Spent the rest of the day relaxing with the family. Sunday I went to my help my cousin Megan move and when I got there, they had already finished moving her out so we drove over to the new place and I helped move her in. 20 Minutes flat and we were done! I stuck around to help her get situated, then went home to get cleaned up for dinner and then headed back down to Plymouth.

Yesterday I was going to go on a last boat trip of the season with the bro-in-law on the Capt. John boats but I got a text from sis in the morning that the seas were rough and she wasn't going to go so I stayed in. Didn't do much of anything during the day and then decided at 3pm that I just had to spend some time with the ocean before the summer was over and so I headed over to Nantasket beach for a swim. It was awesome. Then went grocery shopping, the roommate made tacos for dinner and then I watched tv and went to bed. Not a bad weekend. Although technically it's not the end of the summer, I have too many other things going on in September so I know I wont't get to go back out on the boat or spend another day at the beach or pool so I consider it over. I am glad we're heading into the fall. I love the fall and hopefully I'll be able to carve out some time to do some foliage shooting this year. It happens so fast that I always seem to miss it. September is a busy month but October is still mostly free so I should have some time to get out and do some shooting.

And I just remembered it's Tuesday, not Monday... that is awesome.