a girl and her boy

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

Category Archives: food adventures

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!

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.

Food Love: Pumpkin Chip Pizzert and Kale Crisps.

I love food related blogs/posts. They inspire me to get creative in the kitchen and to explore new ways of providing nourishment for Gabe and me. Here is my recent inspiration from the blogosphere.

THE PIZZERT. MY VERSION:  PUMPKIN CHIP PIZZERT

I came across a drool-worthy post Sunday afternoon by my long-time favorite writer on her blog Berlin’s Whimsy. I devoured the photos of her baked creation through the laptop screen then followed the link over to  Chocolate-Covered Katie where I found the baseline recipe for the Pizzert and encouragement to experiment.

Copyright Berlin Whimsy. BW's beautiful pizzert.

I didn’t wait to try my hand at modifying.

Copyright Chocolate-Covered Katie. CCK's pizzert.

As a modification, as I’m learning grain-free baking and cooking since figuring out my body can’t digest grains, I decided to try using almond flour instead of the wheat flour called for in the original recipe. Except I didn’t have almond flour. I had a 3 lbs. bag of almonds. Without delay, I pulled the Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor out from under the counter and poured a handful of almonds in the bowl. As the blades began whirring, I hoped that I wasn’t about to kill the poor little electronic device! It made such an awful racket and seemed to struggle at first.

DSCN8123

Go, Mini-Prep, go!

 

DSCN8130

Ehh, it might work...

 

The results looked more like paste than flour, but I went with it. I added almond milk for the liquid, a few swirls of agave (though I am beginning to have my doubts about using this sweetener), pumpkin puree, and chocolate chips to round it out. I poured the batter into my newest and favorite pie plate and set it in the oven at 350 degrees to bake alongside the kale crisps I was making at the time of reading the post.

DSCN8132

I love this pie plate! Who'da'thunk it came from Christmas Tree Shop!

I crouched in front of the oven with fingers crossed. When the edges began rising much like those of a traditional brownie or cake batter, I squealed in delight. It was working, thus far!

DSCN8150

Woo-hoo! It's rising! Never thought I'd be so excited about a simple thing. =D

It looked fantastic while in the oven. It tasted fantastic when I dipped into it. Two problems though:  1) I forgot to butter the pie plate so it stuck; 2) the almond paste was a little heavy and the pizzert was only about a quarter-inch thick at best. Next time, I’ll either use almond flour from a mill that I buy at the store, or I’ll talk with Gabe’s mom before grinding the nuts. I know she grinds her own macadamia nuts for pie crust; she must have suggestions for grinding almonds and other nuts.

DSCN8153

Here is my pumpkin chip pizzert, flaws and all.

 

At least it tasted good! I’ll work on it and make the next one even better.

KALE CRISPS

DSCN8140

Yuuuuum! Did I mention how much I ❤ kale crisps?

 

I love kale. I love kale crisps. I love nourishing my body with this super-food leafy green. The process of making kale crisps is quite easy but can be a bit of an oily mess if you’re anything like me in the kitchen.

Today, when I made the kale crisps, I used a bunch of kale, olive oil in a mister, and a little salt to sprinkle on top. In the future, however, I’d use a fat source that is stable under high heat like butter or coconut oil and sprinkle the crisps with garlic powder instead of salt.

Kale crisp making basics:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Chop and rinse the kale. Place the kale on a baking sheet and mist with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven. I honestly don’t know how long to put them in the oven because I’ve never timed it. I leave them in there until the edges start turning a dark reddish brown color and they are crispy to the touch. Maybe 10-15 minutes?

I always buy two bunches when I make kale crisps because I know that the first batch will only result in half of the amount available because as I put it away it’s “one for me, one for the bowl.” 🙂

One of the significant reasons I so heartily appreciate this preparation is that it provides that flavorful crispiness while providing a lot of nutrients. They are as satisfying as a potato chip while packing a body-loving punch! The Gluten-Free Girl wrote about kale crisps as well as Organic Thrifty, as well. I loved their posts and they’ve inspired me to make significant changes in the way I make the next batch.

Happy Monday, all!

Sunday mornings are the best.

Ahhh. Sunday morning. I love Sunday mornings. It’s the one day a week I allow myself to sleep in a smidge, and then read in bed first thing in the morning. It’s lovely.

DSCN8113

I ❤ breakfast now!

 

Once I got myself up and out, I turned my attention to breakfast. In days past, I would reach up over the refrigerator and pull down one of many boxes of cereal and shake some out into a bowl, plop on some blueberries or craisins, or both, and pour on some almond or coconut milk (my dairy milk days have long been over). Since the news from the doctor and personal discovery through trial-and-error that my body cannot process grains, I’ve had to change things up quite a bit.

I’ve been fully grain-free for a little under a week and I’ve realized just how common grains are in my, and most people’s, diet. Changing it up has been a creative challenge.

This morning I was prepared. Gabe and I sat down yesterday afternoon and planned out meals and snacks for the week and went grocery shopping. Pulling from those resources, I started the day with scrambled eggs, made with almond milk, and chopped red pepper, nitrate-free apple-wood smoked bacon, and green and red grapes. A breakfast like this far surpasses the ol’ cereal and almond milk of the past. Today is Sunday, however, and quite relaxed. What to do on the weekday mornings?

Luckily, as I’m presently not working, I have the chance to experiment. Ideas include chopping and prepping veggies on Sunday, or the evening before, for morning meals including sweet potatoes for home fries, peppers and other such veggies for omelets and frittatas, and making nut flour muffins. Do you have ideas for grain-free breakfast items? I’m creating a list of them to prevent frustration and backsliding. Further, do you have ideas for other grain-free meals? I am presently working on modifying traditional meat-based recipes (stews, for instance thickened with almond or coconut flour instead of wheat flour), but am looking for a variety of vegetable recipes that are tried and true. What are your favorites?

DSCN8111

Last night's delicious dinner: roasted chicken and carrots, mashed cauliflower, sweet potato and carrot soup.

 

Lunches and dinners are a little easier. Those meals are more traditionally based on healthy fats and proteins and lots of veggies. For instance, last night I roasted up a free-range organic chicken and served it with mashed cauliflower, roasted carrots, and my long-time favorite sweet potato and carrot soup. The chicken bones and bits are set aside to make chicken soup later today.

I really enjoyed the mashed cauliflower, by the way. I have the idea to make shepherd’s pie using it to replace mashed potatoes on top. The thought of this dish is making me hungry all over again!

veggies

All ready for the week!

 

Now that breakfast is out of the way, and veggies are peeled and chopped for the week, I can turn my attention to knitting the afternoon away.

I hope you have a fabulous Sunday spent the way you like them.

New Food Adventure


So, I just got a phone call and the conversation essentially went like this (creative license used liberally to condense):

Doc: “Full results are in. Grains are irritating your system. Stop eating them.”
Me: “Um, do you mean going gluten free?”
Doc: “Nope. Stop eating all grains, today if possible.”

Whelp, I guess it’s time I embrace this whole “no grain” thing. Good thing I was planning on having a salad for lunch and not a sandwich on that expensive gluten-free bread I bought this weekend.

On to a new food adventure.

Now what to do with that gluten-free but grain-filled banana bread sitting on my counter calling my name?

Discovery: Gluten-free Girl.

While poking around for gluten-free recipes today, I discovered the website Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef that offers great recipes and much inspiration.

Read more of this post

Bits and Pieces

cozied up at home

I feel like writing today. It’s been a while.

It’s a chilly, grey, rainy day here on the north shore and my thoughts have turned to warmth and comfort. I pulled out a sweater from the tub I hauled down to the basement a month ago, slipped into some jeans, wrapped a scarf around my neck and settled into a book first thing this morning. It has been a while since the house has been quiet like this for quiet reflection and reading. I sipped on coffee made with lowfat milk and honey in my new Emerson mug. Perfect.

the house I rented in Maine

new transitions

My thoughts drifted back to autumns and winters past, the little comforts for chill days, and how different my present is, and how much greater the difference will be in five weeks. I went from renting a house in rural Maine were I chopped and split and hauled my own fire wood to soon living in an apartment building in the up-and-coming part of Boston with amenities I never dreamed of having at my finger tips. Worlds apart.

the roof deck of my new home

In Maine, I had organic farms and farm stands a few streets away, chickens in my back yard that ate bugs off my herbs and vegetables, and fruit trees. I was blessed with an abundance of food that could easily be traced to its roots. Boston has Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and farmers’ markets, too, but it’s different. I’m not sure which I preferred. Maine was wonderful, but living in Boston where I will be commuting to gather groceries by means of public transit will be a new and interesting experience. Maintaining my organic, green, healthy lifestyle in 750 square foot apartment in Boston has given me a new focus for blog writing.

I look forward to the new experience of getting on the silver line and having time to think and observe while going to gather food. I look forward to the bustling farmers’ market full of new and wonderful things. And I look forward to a new opportunity to start fresh and make more adjustments in my diet for a healthier life. This whole experience will be new. And I look forward to the challenges and opportunities it presents.

reading

I curled up with The Eyre Affair, a novel on loan from my friend Jose. I’m working on zipping through so I can return it to him at his farewell party in two weeks. I inadvertently slammed the book when I last saw him at a gaming event by saying something to the effect of I’m in the middle of a bunch of books right now and haven’t had a chance to finish it yet to which he replied something to the effect of so there are a bunch of books you like better than this one. So I’m trying to make up for it by actually finishing the book and coming up with an honest review of it.

I’ve been in a book gathering mood of late and have picked up the first four books of The Dark Tower, of which I’m in the middle of book two, an annotated complete works of Milton, the Divine Comedy, and the new instant classics of Little Women and Werewolves as well as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’ll never have enough books. I’m doomed to living in a book-lined home.

hand and home crafts

Nothing much going on with needle crafts such as cross-stitching or knitting. Per usual, I have a ton of UFOs sitting around that need some attention. The hexacomb cardigan has been set aside until I have an opportunity to fix some errors using EZ’s “no tears” method. The hexacomb pattern became a spiral when I was under the influence of Vicodin. I haven’t had the spirit to fix it since I discovered the error.

gaming and geekery

I picked up copies of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII this weekend. I look forward to settling in and playing them through this summer. I also picked up the first volume of some comics:  Lenore, The Wizard of Oz, and The Dark Tower. I cannot wait to purchase the whole of each.

That’s what I’m up to and some of what I’ve been thinking about. I hope all is well with you!

Much love. Black Sheep.

There is no try.

Round two.

Okay. I wasn’t done. Remember that fear I mentioned? Well, it got the better of me and I stopped writing before I got to what I really wanted to say and what I was really feeling.

I am going to stop looking for ways out, for back doors, for escape routes.

And that’s what I’m *really* tired of. My habit of looking for a reason ahead of time why something won’t work so I can shrug my shoulders and say, “I tried. But….”

No more BUTS. No more TRIED.

That’s the circle, the cycle, I’ve been stuck in.

Anytime I find something that really has the power to change me for the better, I RUN from it. And I know why, I have a whole history of explanations, but I’m so tired of it ruling my life.

It’s my life.

The old habits got me here. They won’t get me out. Time for new ones.

I already overhauled a lot of my life this last year. And I should nod to the HUGE changes and progress I’ve made. It’s time to do some fine tuning now.