a girl and her boy

. daily life : wool obsession : bibliomania : living on purpose .

Okay, I lied. One more change.

Okay, I lied. One more change. One more big move. THEN we’re done. Okay?

This next big change is because I’m growing as a writer and I want opportunity to grow and expand in ways that blogging here at WordPress won’t allow, namely, becoming a member of the BlogHer networked community. I had no idea until I went through the application process today that WordPress doesn’t support the BlogHer networking. That’s the direction of my growth, so I have to move platforms.

Please join me at the new (and FINAL!) space at:

http://jensirois.typepad.com/agirlandherboy/

Please update your blog readers/feeds/email subscriptions accordingly.

Thank you! You readers mean the world to me and I can’t wait for you to see the new spiffy space! I’m a TypePad newbie still, sot it’s not as pretty or sparkly as others, yet. It will be!

[EDITED:  Pasted the wrong link. Sorry!]

Dining Strategies for the Eating Impaired

I’ve had known food allergies since about 2001 when I finally figured out through trial and error that onions make me sick. It was a mish-mash version of the elimination strategy:  I’d eat something with onions and I’d have a reaction; I’d eat something without and be fine. It didn’t take long for the pattern to emerge. After paying attention to my symptoms, I then looked it up and sure enough, there were others with the same reactions to onions out there.

The seafood, shellfish really, allergy was easier to figure out. I had a lobster roll summer of 2002 and within ten minutes I was the Michelin man. It took a trip to the ER to get the swelling under control. I’ve avoided anything food that comes from the water since, fresh water and sea alike.

I’m well adjusted to cooking with these food allergies at home. It’s pretty easy to avoid the fish (don’t buy it!) and I’ve read enough labels to know at a glance what’s safe on the shelves of the store and what’s not as far as onion.

Dining out, well, that’s always been tricky.

For a long time, I didn’t bother with trying to order entrees that were safe because it was such a hassle. I’d suffer silently with the symptoms to minimize the inconvenience I thought I was causing to my dining companions and wait staff. After a while, though, enough was enough. Coming home from a restaurant with a swollen throat and a tummy ache, at best, was getting old. I began speaking up and discussing my culinary needs with my friends and family and asked for them to help me out when dining at a restaurant, and I learned how to navigate the waters of dining out and getting food I can eat.

Some strategies I have been using that have helped in the past (mostly) are creating dining cards for the wait staff and chef, befriending the restaurant, calling ahead and asking about specific entrees, and developing a list of restaurants and entrees that are safe after seeing how successful the strategies are with certain places.

Dining Cards

I keep them simple. Mine say:  “Caution:  I have food allergies. The onion-family (onions, scallions, chives, leeks, and shallots) and seafood make me very sick. Can you help me have an enjoyable meal that’s safe? Thank you!” It helps cut down on the confusion, most of the time, and is especially useful when the place is loud or when the wait staff speak English as their second language. Now I have to edit it and add gluten.

Make Friends with the Waitstaff/Restaurant

When I was in graduate school in Maine, every Tuesday night a group of us would go to Woodman’s Bar and Grill in Orono. We did this every Tuesday night for about a year. After two or three visits, the waitress that usually waited on us started teasing me saying, “And you want that burger with onion rings, right?” When another person waited on our table, she was good about checking on and catching my plate that wasn’t made right before it came to the table. Becoming a regular and getting to know the staff and chef at a place really helps!

Food allergies are annoying because when things go well, the dining experience is great! You can enjoy the conversation and eat and have a fantastic time. When the food isn’t prepared properly, or when there are limited options, it’s terrible. I once went through five plates at a restaurant because they didn’t get the order right. It was at The Tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem and I ordered a mushroom swiss burger.

I gave the waitress my spiel about the allergies, gave her the card, and suggested she check how the mushrooms are cooked, if there is anything added to the meat for flavor, and to check to see if the roll is plain or flavored. I’ve learned. Well, the first plate came out with onion rings when I ordered sweet potato fries. The next came out with a big ol’ red onion sitting on top of the burger. The third came out on an onion roll. The fourth was on the same plate as the third (I recognized the big chip on the plate). And the fifth was undercooked. I was ready to cry I was so hungry and frustrated. By the time, I’d been through the five plates, Gabe had already finished off his huge plate of fish and salad and we’d been there for close to two hours.  (The waitress did not charge me.)

From the Tavern, we went to the all-night diner in town and I had a fruit waffle. Now that I know about the gluten, I can’t do that anymore, though.  After scarfing down the waffle, I thought my tummy was upset because of the earlier stress of going through five rejected burgers.  Little did I know it was because I had just dropped a big ol’ tile of wheat gluten on my gut!

Call Ahead

I call ahead as often as I can to check on entrees I’m interested in after looking up the menu online. It gives me an opportunity to talk with the owner or chef and ask about modifications or alternatives to what I’m interested in. Most of the time, again, this works, but I still get surprised by what some places consider a reasonable accommodation.

Last Christmas, Gabe and I went on a weekend trip to Newport, RI. We began planning for the trip in October. This gave me plenty of time to research restaurants in the area, look at their menus, call and ask about the ingredients and accommodations, and plan out where we’d eat meals. Gabe also called ahead and notified the hotel (the Viking) we stayed at about my food allergies so they could make the necessary accommodations for the pri fixe Christmas eve menu.

What a disappointment the hotel was. They gave us the most verbose assurance of dining enjoyment only to let me down. When we got there and settled in for our black-tie meal, the host had not been notified of my allergy as we were told he would be. The staff went scurrying back to the kitchen to talk with the chef. The main item, a steak, was off limits because every steak they had was marinated in an oniony concoction. The other plate was off limits because it was shellfish. The soup wasn’t safe:  onions. The ended up serving me egg noodles with boiled root veggies and butter. For $50 pri fixe. I was angry. If we hadn’t prepaid and if there were other options available that late on Christmas Day, we would have gone somewhere else. The hotel restaurant got quite the letter from me.

The local restaurants were better, though. One little Italian hole-in-the-wall not only listened to me on the phone and guided me through their menu, but the chef read up on the allergy and noted the time and date that I discussed with the owner. He had made an individual batch of the special sauce for the ravioli dish I was interested in and brought it out to me himself that night. Such a difference!

Know When to Throw ‘Em and When to Hold ‘Em

One of the newest strategies for dining out I’ve learned is setting expectations and handling upsets. I carefully consider what the intention of the gathering is and whether making a fuss over food is worth it.

For instance, a few weeks back I met up with a friend of mine from Maine while she was touring graduate programs in the Boston area. We agreed to meet up at the Boston Public Library’s café. Knowing that it was unlikely there would be much available to me, I ate a little something at home before leaving, and set my intention to focus on the conversation and having a pleasant visit instead of on eating. That way, when I got there and the only onion, seafood, gluten-free option was an apple, I wasn’t crestfallen. I’d prepared and set my expectations.

When I dine out and make the effort to call ahead, and then give the wait staff my spiel, if at that point the food options are not as advertised or plates are not made correctly, that’s when I make a fuss.

It was much, much easier when it was just onions and seafood, though. Now that it’s gluten, too, it’s imperative that I utilize these dining strategies, especially calling ahead and making friends with the wait staff by becoming a regular at places that treat me well.

* * *

One strategy that I’m going to try now that I have the gluten-intolerance identified is bring my own gluten-free pasta or bread to restaurants that may not already be equipped with the supplies to handle my gluten-intolerance, and to bring my own salad dressing (onion). Have you done this? Has it worked? The big problem with dining now that I have all these identified food allergies is that it can’t be spontaneous and unprepared!

How do you handle disappointments when eating out? Do you have food issues? How do you meet your needs in public or on the go? How do you handle the social factor?

Oh, yeah! Happy Valentine’s day!

Reading the Stacks 2011

I have a lot of books. I always have. I’m an English teacher and an avid reader, so it makes sense. With all the moves the last few years, my shelves have been going through a lot of changes and I find myself for the first time with more books that I have not read on my shelves than vice versa. This is unsettling. The books call out to me at night when I’m sleeping, begging to be read. When I sit with one book, another flies off the shelf and lands in my lap and whines. I need to quell the voices and buckle down and read the volumes on the shelves that haven’t been cracked since considering their adoption at various bookstores.

So this year, along with blogging every day and knitting solely out of my stash, I issue the challenge of reading exclusively from my stacks all the unread or half-read books. I thought about writing a list, but that would be massive. Instead, I’ll write a list of ten books at a time to work through and as I cross books off, I’ll add more at the bottom.

The following list is comprised mainly of books I’m partway through already and just need to focus in on and finish. I have a bad habit of starting a new book while I’m already reading another and thus spread my attention too thin. I do that with knitting, too.

1. Savage Beauty:  The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Nancy Milford. Current status:  104 of 509 pages.

I began reading this one in the fall and I pick it up from time to time and read a chapter. I’m really enjoying learning more about one of my favorite poets and fellow Mainer.

2. Look Homeward, Angel. Thomas Wolfe. Current status:  69 of 508 pages.

Wolfe is a great and vivid writer but his exposition is thick and takes a lot of effort to trudge through. That’s one of the reasons I’m stuck at under 100 pages.

3. Stress Less:  The new science that shows women how to rejuvenate the body and mind. Thea Singer. Current Status:  11 of 254 pages.

I went to the book talk at Brookline Booksmith when Thea Singer was there. When introducing her book, she said that the tag line was the publisher’s idea and not hers. She wanted it to be “stress is the new biological clock.” The publishers won. The book has good science and great common sense ideas on how to manage stress.

4. Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen. Current status:  120 of 365 pages.

As I expected, I’m thoroughly enjoying S&S. Austen rocks.

5. Swann’s Way. Marcel Proust. Current status:  0 of 444 pages.

This has been on my to-read list and by my bed for long enough. Time to cross it off!

6. Heavy Words Lightly Thrown:  The Reason Behind the Rhyme. Chris Roberts.

Gabe and I have been taking turns reading chapters out of this book out loud. I’m hoping we can finish it up in the next week or two.

7. The Fountain Overflows. Rebecca West. Current status:  0 of 313 pages.

I bought this book a few months ago for a book club. The event was cancelled and I then put off reading the book. I’m still very intrigued by the summaries I’ve read and look forward to my own reaction to this classic book.

8. Wizard and Glass, volume Four of The Dark Tower. Stephen King. Current Status:  119 of 668.

King is a master writer. I love everything I’ve read by him so far and he inspires me as a writer and a reader.

9. Everything’s Eventual:  14 Dark Tales. Stephen King. Status:  0 of 459 pages.

It’s a King book. I can’t wait to crack it open!

10. Azumanga Daioh. Kiyohiko Azuma. Current status:  483 of 675 pages.

This is the entire manga series in one volume. I watched the anime version back in 2005 or 2006 and befriended the characters. Reading the story in manga form is like reminiscing with old friends. It’s been a great experience. Azumanga Daioh is a slice of life manga following a cast of five friends through their three years of high school.

Read the Stack 2011 - Stack 1

Stack 1

* * *

What are you currently reading? What books are on your list to read right now?

Rules to Live By

12 Rules to Live by Robert Louis Stevenson
Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.

Make the best of circumstances. No one has everything and everyone has something of sorrow.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Don’t let criticism worry you. You can’t please everybody.

Don’t let your neighbors set your standards; be yourself.

Do things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.

Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than actual ones.

Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish enmities and grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.

Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about places.

Don’t hold post-mortems or spend time brooding over sorrows and mistakes.

Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.

Keep busy at something. A very busy person never has time to be unhappy.

* * *

Just a little something extra for today. I hope you are having a fantastic day!

Knit the Stash 2011: the Sock Yarn

Like any self-respecting knitter, I have a stash to be proud of. It’s full and constantly demanding more storage space and knitting time. I’ve added to it since beginning my most recent phase of knitting in 2005 and it’s currently contained in a plastic tote, two wicker baskets, and a few travel bags. It contains sock yarn, sweater yarn, “I have no idea” yarn, and hand-me-down yarn. Some of it is lovely wool or bamboo, some of it is blended, and some of it is acrylic that I’ve grown out of using. I’m attached to all of it and that’s why the stash is massive.

However, it’s time to make something of the collection, thus the Knit the Stash 2011 challenge. Over the next several Saturdays, I’ll be posting photos of the stash and thoughts on how the yarn will be used. Some of it will be knit up according to the original plan, some of it will be re-purposed and matched to a new and wonderful pattern, and some of it will likely be given away (I love blog giveaways!). I may also give away many of the knitted items.

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all the sock yarn in my collection, less one that's in a knitting bag in my car

 

I wrangled up all the sock yarn. All told, there is wool for 13 pairs of socks, maybe more with leftovers.

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Jawoll Magic Superwash

 

Sock Stash #1 – Jawoll Magic Superwash

I purchased this gorgeous superwash blend at A Yarn Over Marblehead December 2010 when I was shopping with my friend Alison B to get stuff for a cowl and mitts. This is a cute little store that has a good selection of yarn in a range from wool/acrylic blends for the timid beginner to high end designer wool for those heirloom projects. There was a single cubby for the Jawoll Magic Superwash and I was immediately drawn to the skein I adopted. I picked it up off the shelf immediately and carried it around the store for forty minutes before I made a final decision. The colors are perfect for spring and I can’t wait to have it knitted up and on my feet! I need to find the perfect pattern to showcase the colors. I’m thinking a simple rib would work.

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worth a second look - Jawoll Magic Superwash

 

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Knit Picks Stroll in Grass

 

Sock Stash #2 – Knit Picks Stroll in Grass

I’ve had good luck with the Knit Picks sock yarns. I know some knitters don’t like it, and that’s fine, but I have no problems with it so far. It’s priced well and my socks knit up their wool from a few years ago are just fine still. I loved this green color and it will work well for showing off a pattern with texture. I’m thinking a lacy pattern.

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Knit Picks Stroll in Hearth Multi

 

Sock Stash #3 – Knit Picks Stroll in Hearth Multi

There was a sale and I got this for a good price. Orange has been my color this year. After years of avoiding orange, I’ve been craving it!

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Knit Picks Essential in Lumber Jack Tweed

 

Sock Stash #4 – Knit Picks Essential in Lumberjack Tweed

A basic sock yarn that will show off a nice textured pattern.

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Knit Picks Essential in Inca Gold Tweed

 

Sock Stash #5 – Knit Picks Essential in Inca Gold Tweed

Another basic sock yarn for a textured pattern.

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Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox

 

Sock Stash #6 – Plymouth Yarn Sockin’ Sox in ___ (blue)

I love this yarn. It has wool and bamboo! How can it get any better? The colors are soft and calming. I’m thinking a simple rib stitch pattern for this.

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Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox

 

Sock Stash #7 – Plymouth Yarn Sockin’ Sox in ___ (brown)

This is the same as the other Plymouth yarn. Brown is such a nice color for socks, especially in the fall with a wheat colored sweater and a bright scarf.

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Austermann Step

 

Sock Stash #8 – Austermann Step

I love this yarn! I’ve bought a few skeins and knitted it up into socks, all for gifts, and loved every moment of knitting with this stuff. The wool is infused with aloe and it softened my fingers while knitting. I can just imagine how it would be for the feet!

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a hand-spun hand-dyed gift

 

Sock Stash #9 – hand spun and dyed wool, green

I was given this wool as a departure gift when I left my teaching position in Maine. My mentor teacher was also a knitter and she spun and dyed this for me. Aww!

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a hand-spun hand-dyed gift

 

Sock Stash #10 – hand spun and dyed wool, purple

My mentor teacher from Maine spun and dyed this one for me, too!

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Cascade 220

 

Sock Stash #11 – Cascade 220

I bought this stuff out of the “orphans” basket at Fiberphilia in 2007. I intended to make socks out of it, and still do, but I’ve started and frogged a few other projects with it in between.

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self-striping sock kit dyed for me as a gift

 

Sock Stash #12 – hand dyed wool, multi

Another hand-dyed gift from my mentor teacher in Maine. She used one of the self-striping kits from Knit Picks and went to town with the dye! It’s a crazy hodge-podge of color and I love it!

 

Opal

Sock Stash #13 – Opal

I bought this yarn at the Yard Goods Center in Waterville, ME back in 2007. I just cast on a pair of socks with it out of the Nancy Bush book, Knitting Vintage Socks.

* * *

So that’s the sock yarn stash! I’ll be knitting exclusively from the stash this year to whittle down the collection.

I also have a book goal but I’ll be writing about that on Sunday.

What are you working on this year? What ideas do you have to use what you have and save money? What are  your productivity goals?

Food Blues and Temper Tantrums

As you may have gathered from the last several weeks, I’ve undergone some changes in eating habits and food prep. It’s been hard. The author of The Gluten-Free Bible wrote that going gluten-free is, in a sense, a process of mourning. She’s got that right.

Cooking is something I’ve always enjoyed. I prided myself on cooking so much in high school that people often gave me cookbooks on gift-giving occasions. Learning new ways of preparing healthy meals and favorite goodies that are gluten-free has been a major challenge, especially so when the boy and his voracious appetite eats up most of the safe food in the house like last weekend. That ended badly.

I was already frustrated and tired from reworking recipes and finding new and creative ways of cooking lean meat and veggies while going through the grain-free part of the voyage. Then, come Saturday night, I realized after waking from an impromptu nap late in the day that there wasn’t anything that was safe for me to eat in the house.

Gabe often goes in to the office on the weekend to work on various personal projects for his professional advancement and such was the case on this particular evening. When he got home at around 7:30, I started whining about how hungry I was, how late it was for grocery shopping and cooking, and the challenge of finding gluten-free, grain-free, onion-free, and seafood-free food in the city.

Got that? Four big food no-no’s. It was hard enough when it was just the onion and seafood allergy. Now add gluten intolerance. It’s a nightmare!

Always ready to solve my problems, Gabe opened his laptop and researched places we can go. He found a Vietnamese restaurant in Harvard Square that looked good for dinner. We scurried out into the cold rainy evening to catch the T. On the way out to Cambridge, he told me his plan. I nearly cried.

One of the things I’m working on is being brave with trying new foods and cuisines. I grew up in a home where money and food was in short supply and it was a big deal to waste food. I learned quickly to eat only stuff I knew I liked because I’d be responsible for finishing everything on my plate no matter what. It discouraged exploration. That and my folks were not the best of cooks and the food was often over spiced, over or under cooked, and of a limited menu.

I had never eaten Vietnamese cuisine before and there was no way I wanted to struggle through making sure it was onion, gluten, grain, and seafood free only to find out I didn’t like it. That would make a bad night worse.

As we approached the Charles/MGH stop, we decide to bend the grain-free guidelines a bit and go to Flatbread in Somerville. Flatbread is an all-natural and organic pizza restaurant. The pizzas are cooked in an open wood clay hearth, the kitchen is open, and they list all the farms that their stuff comes from on a chalkboard. And best of all, they have gluten-free pizza crust. It’s awesome. It’s delicious. It’s awesomely delicious.

We arrived in Somerville and picked our path through the crowd and around the big puddles and snow banks. I held on desperately to my smile and tried hard to keep up my end of the conversation, but I was too lost in hunger, frustration over my new eating challenges, and anxiety over the normal problems of ordering food with a plethora of food allergies to be successful.

The Somerville Flatbread location shares an open building with a bowling alley. Over the crashing pins and dropped balls, we put our names down on the list for a table and learned that it would be an hour and forty-five minutes. It was already 8 pm.

Back out on the street, in the middle of Somerville, facing a two hour wait for food and looking up and down a busy main street with what seemed like twenty or more purveyors of fine food with nothing safe for me to eat, I melted down. A feet stomping in rain puddles, fist pumping, sobbing, thoughts racing temper tantrum ensued.

Gabe offered to try and find another place for us to eat, or for us to go home and relax, but that didn’t really solve the problem. My problem was that it’s now incredibly hard to eat out without a lot of preparation and that I need to be assured that I’ll always have something reasonable to eat at home, and I was famished. As the rain poured and collected in growing puddles, we discussed the issue when I’d come down some and found solutions.

Back at Flatbread for dinner that night and I enjoyed a gluten-free personal pizza with the backdrop of a rare winter thunder and lightening storm.

Life has been so much easier on the home front since folding the grains back in and learning some tips and tricks to cooking and shopping gluten-free. Let’s hope it gets easier on the dining front soon with new coping strategies.

And with that, I’m off to do some menu planning and grocery shopping.

 

 

The Power of Intentions – Make Your Life Happen!

“Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. Today is a new day. Today is my world made new. I have lived all my life up to this moment, to come to this day. This moment… this day… is as good as any moment in all eternity. I shall make of this day… each moment of this day… a heaven on earth. This is my day of opportunity.” Dan Custer.

I seem to have something to learn about the power of intentions and positive thinking as the universe has put opportunity after opportunity to think about it, engage in it, and learn from it in my path lately. The quotation at the beginning of this post was in my email inbox one morning earlier this week. On Sunday at church, the message was about harnessing your power and the power of the Universe to set and achieve intentions, and the chapter in my manual on writing just happens to be talking about intentions and goals as well. Okay, Universe, here we go.

I have made much progress in life. I’m very happy with where I am and what’s in my life, in general. I have two postsecondary degrees in areas I am passionate about. I have a comfortable home and plenty of possessions to keep me entertained, progressing, and developing. I have health, youth, and energy to make big things happen. I’ve overcome some huge obstacles and learned many lessons about love, forgiveness, and faith.

Life isn’t over yet, and won’t be for many years if I have it my way, which means there is plenty left to learn and achieve. (I tell Gabe often that I want to live to be 120. He says that with technology and health advancements that it’s quite possible.)

After doing some financial planning with Gabe, I turned the page in the notebook to a fresh sheet and wrote down in concrete terms the things I am going to do in life. That’s right, no “maybe” or “someday” or “it would be nice if I could.” It’s all about “I will.”

Here is what I intend:

I will be financially independent and responsible.

This one is huge for me. I grew up in a family where money was always an issue. There was never enough of it and it was often misused. When I went off to college, having no real concept of how money worked, I got myself into credit card debt and constantly lived beyond my meager means. It took a long time and many hard lessons before I got myself out of debt, stabilized my finances, and learned how to manage money effectively. While teaching, I did very well to support myself and my former husband on my salary and somehow managed to save enough to live on for the first six months or so of living in Salem when I ventured out on my own after the separation. Now I’m in a financially stable committed relationship, but I wake up worrying at night about what would happen if something happened to Gabe, or if there were an even bigger economic upset. I am actively working on getting myself and our relationship set up so that we are individually, and as a couple, financially stable. I want to know that no matter what happens that we are going to be okay.

I will be professionally successful and secure in a teaching/editing/publishing position.

I want it and I’m working for it. It’ll happen.

I will obtain and maintain good health.

I reworded my usual goals because they were too narrow and I found myself constricted and limited. I have learned that if I focus my goals too much and organize things too well, then I “rebel” and don’t do it. I need flexibility and freedom to achieve goals, especially health related.

One big change I’ve made to work towards a lifetime of good health and physical strength is my “minimum” rule: it doesn’t matter what it is or how much, but I must do something physical every day. I can go on a long walk. I can do few sets of crunches and push-ups. I can go to the gym and lift weights. The goal is to move my body every day. This way of thinking has helped me get up and move every day for the last 19 days. I’m close to the 21-days to form a habit!

Beyond that, I have some very specific running goals for the next 24 months. I had to put off my races this past year because of the health situation, but now that I’m on the mend, it’s training time again. So, my general goals as I haven’t set up a training schedule or found races yet is to run a handful of 5k races this spring and summer, and by fall run a 10k race. Then over the next fall and winter, pump it up to half-marathon distance for the late spring or early summer next year and keep pushing for my first marathon in the fall/winter of 2012. That gives me, I hope, a decent amount of time to build up miles and strength for a marathon. Running-readers, what do you think? Prior to the illness, I ran 4-6 miles a day 3 to 4 times a week and long runs of 7-10 miles at my best. Since then, I’ve managed to get in 7-12 miles a week. Not much, I know, but it’s been something.

 

I miss running outside! I can't wait until it warms up.

As far as food goes, I’ve had so many different ideas on how to achieve health through food and it’s brought me to extreme decisions in the past. My new and best idea yet: moderation! Oldies are the goodies. I do fairly well getting in a fair number of fruits in a day, and I’m getting better with veggies. I’ve been a whole grain person for years now and had a period where I thought I wanted to dump them from the diet completely. Then I had to go off them on doctor’s orders for a few weeks. Now that I’m healthier and feeling good without the dairy and gluten, and thinking long and hard about my needs, what I want, and about world health trends, I’ve decided to keep them. That’s for me. Everyone makes their own decisions based on their needs and how their body responds. Do the best by your own body, folks! Treat it well!

I’m also going to start yoga! Woo-hoo! I got a great deal on 7 classes in Cambridge through Yelp. I can’t wait to have a yoga booty.

I will live a long and happy life.

This whole post is about intentions. I intend to be happy every day to the best of my ability. I’m choosing it. The long part, well, I’m hoping that by a positive attitude, a fulfilling and invigorating career, and a healthy lifestyle, that comes with some luck.

I will write and publish at least one novel.

I’ve been tapping away at the keyboard for at least 30 minutes each day on a new novel idea this year. I don’t know how good it is, but it’s progressing. You gotta write a novel to publish a novel. The best writing is rewriting and revision. It’ll come.

* * * * *

So what about you? What are your intentions? What are you going to make happen with your life?

Happy Thursday, folks!

Frustration has replaced Elation.

Who knew that something so simple and pleasure-filled as making chocolate chip cookies would stress me out so much now that I’m doing the gluten-free thing? I haven’t been able to get a single one of the last three batches to come out right and I’m ready to jump out the window. I won’t though; I’ll have a nice glass of red instead.

In January, I had a conversation with my gastroenterologist over the phone that brought my world down around my ears:  no grains, in addition to no gluten. What? How am I supposed to live without oatmeal on the cold winter mornings? I questioned the Universe.  What am I supposed to do with all my bread making supplies? What am I supposed to do with my love of baking cookies? Luckily, a few weeks later, I had another conversation and he explained what he meant:  no grains, including gluten, for a few weeks while my insides heal from the damages. I’ll always be gluten free from now on, but I can eat whole grains again. Phew. That’s something I can deal with. I’ve been without grains in any form for five weeks and feel better than ever, so I decided to start rolling them back in a little at a time. Starting with the cookies.

They are crushing me right now.

Normally, my chocolate chip cookies are picture-perfect:  round, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, 2-1/2 to 3 inches across, and an even golden color. These ones are about 3-1/2 to four inches across, flat, and dark. What is a girl to do?

I’m using the classic Toll House cookie recipe that I memorized when I was seven:  2 sticks butter, 3/4 cup white sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2-1/4 cups flour, and a package of chocolate chips. Now, instead of the wheat flour, I’m using a blend of potato starch, tapioca flour, and brown rice flour as my all-purpose. Does it really make that big a difference? Who knew?

This photo is by "Soy Free Cook" on AllRecipes. This is what my cookies normally look like.

When I found this flour mix, the book said I could use it cup for cup in place of regular flour. Have any of you readers experience with gluten-free baking? What do you do? I am going out of my mind for some safe chocolate chip cookies.

Heeeelp! Please!


 

P. S. I have a picture of my hideous cookies but the wireless Internet isn’t working with me right now. I’ll update the post tomorrow (or later tonight) when I have a better connection with the photo.

Okay, seriously Universe. We need to have a talk.

Universe, you know very well how much I want a puppy. I dream about puppies. I dream about them peeing on newspaper. About them running around with my half-knit socks. About them curled up sleeping on my clean laundry pile. About them romping around in the park.

Whenever an L. L. Bean catalog comes in, I circle all the puppies and try to figure out what their item numbers are so I can fill out the order form for them, and the stuff they’re on.

I scour Petfinder and send Gabe emails with a love poem for each puppy on it begging to go and bring the little love bug home.

And THEN today, one of my newly found blogs I adore, Carrots ‘n Cakejust HAD to post puppy-porn. Seriously.

I can’t hold out much longer.

I. need. a. puppy.

The Bottom Line

Last night after dinner, Gabe and I sat in our his and hers Queen Anne recliners in the living room planning for the rest of the week. Our planning eventually got on the future track and I began plotting out financial goals on the long, medium, and short range, including the mundane details of adult life like car maintenance, car insurance, eye glasses, etc for the short term and on the long term things like retirement and a house.

But the bottom line is a puppy.

You see, we can’t have a puppy where we are right now. It would cost too much. Our building would have us pay a big down payment and then a monthly fee for a four-legged baby. And I want a four-legged baby like hydrogen wants oxygen:  it’s on a molecular level.

Every item we added to the list, after writing it down, I said, “and this gets us closer to puppy!” After a bit, you can imagine this got old.

We eventually finished our list, set the alarm and crawled into bed.

Thirty-five minutes after lights out, I sit straight up in bed, and declared, as if I had never owned this need before, “I want a puppy!”

Bleary-eyed from being awaken, Gabe just looked at me and shook his head.

“At least I’m not saying ‘baby’, ” I responded to the look. With that, I finally drifted off to sleep dreaming of my future furry four-legged baby-kins.

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