Thursday, June 30, 2011

2011 Goals Update

Ahhhh June.  I feel like I've been so busy, and yet I don't feel like I have a lot to show for it!

Couch to 5K?  Umm, no.  I'm not even going to pretend it was the weather this time.  I. Just. Haven't. Done. It.

Sigh.

BUT....I have continued eating better and I've been more active, taking my son to the park, going for walks with my friend, etc. I've been enjoying the summer, which makes me healthier and happier all around!

I've kept up the daily blogging and the Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plans, as well as consistently adding books to my 100 in 2011 list.  I've been updating the blog tabs and planning out some future changes to the site.

I've gotten back to my writing now that I'm waiting for my professors to read through my thesis draft, and I've got a few story ideas I'd like to explore.  So the plan is to carve out some dedicated time to have my butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard, writing, writing, writing.

We have two short trips planned for the summer, a wedding, our anniversary, a few birthdays and hopefully a few days home as a family to just kick back and relax!

Hopefully by the next update the garage will be painted and the garden will be providing me with some edible goodies.  I'm also hoping that the little home office "nook" in the basement will be done and ready to use.  Going back to work in the fall means binders, textbooks, and student papers that need a place to go, and currently the dining room table is the go-to spot.  That needs to change.

Let's see what the next month brings!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

   
Astilbe

No idea what these are, but I like them

Marigolds.  They smell yucky, but they protect my tomatoes

Don't know what these are called either. 

My lillies


Waiting for these to flower!
Some of my garden flowers.  Can't wait for everything to be in full bloom!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sabine Lisicki Gluten Free

On the heels of Novak Djokovic's announcement that he was going gluten free for health reasons, another tennis player, Sabine Lisicki of Germany, has also announced that she is gluten intolerant.  Lisicki had battled cramping and illness in the past, even collapsing on court during a match.  She spoke about her condition briefly today during an interview at Wimbledon.  She mentioned that her gluten intolerance had been affecting her stamina and general overall health, and although she feels better now on a gluten free diet, she also commented that it takes time for the body to adjust to a new diet. 

This is an important point for me, because unlike many food allergies or intolerance where removing a single ingredient can be straightforward, removing gluten in all forms requires making several dietary changes for the average person, particularly since it is so prevalent.  Gluten is not only found in those products you would expect to see it, it is often also lurking in products where you wouldn't expect to find it.

Like certain types of vinegar.

Or soup broth. 

Or salad dressings and BBQ sauces.

Not to mention the simplicity with which cross-contamination can happen.

Toasting that slice of gluten free bread in the same appliance that toasts regular bread?  You could be cross-contaminated. 

Since one's diet changes so drastically when gluten is removed, it stands to reason that an adjustment period is natural.  Especially if the intestines have been damaged from exposure. 

Lisicki seems to be adjusting well though.  Today she won her quarterfinal match at Wimbledon, and will be playing in the semi-finals on Thursday.  As for that other gluten-free player, Djokovic, he plays his quarterfinal match tomorrow.

Could there be two gluten free athletes in the semi-finals of one of the most prestigious tennis events in the world this year? 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Look at all the green goodness...

I mentioned a while ago that I was going to expand my measly little garden a bit this year to try and supplement the food share delivery we get during Spring, Summer and Fall.  All the rain we've been getting has been good to my garden.  Here are a few shots of where it's at!

My expert gardener

Fennel

Kale

Green beans and different varieties of hot peppers

Hot banana peppers

Basil, Parsley, Cilantro and Rosemary

Garlic and leeks

Garlic

Tomatoes

Green Peas

Eggplant

Mini Tomatoes




Can't wait until everything is ready to eat!  The bok choy I already pulled and cooked it with the chicken dish in this week's menu.  I'm looking forward to plucking the first plump pea pod right off the plant and adding it to a nice fresh summer salad!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan



Monday: Steaks marinated in Argentinean Chimichurri sauce & Vegetable Kebabs.  Chimichurri is a green sauce that I marinated the meat in for a few hours before grilling it.  I'll serve it with some more to dip. 











Tuesday: Chicken with black olives on a bed of bok choy.   I was going to serve it with a beet salad, but we had that for lunch.













Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Steamed Broccoli & 
Cauliflower and Jasmine Rice









Thursday: Creamy Tuna Vegetable Pasta Salad      








Friday: Chicken Tostadas made with shredded leftover olive  
chicken served with a Caesar Salad and Refried Beans

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cleaning out the basement

Today we tackled the basement.  Well, most of it.  We are lucky that our house came with a finished basement when we bought it, with plenty of storage space included in the design.  Unfortunately, that means plenty of space to put all the crap we don't always feel like sorting through or putting away properly throughout the year.  Closet under the stairs, cupboard beside the cold room, the cold room, the furnace room, closet in the spare bedroom in the basement....

So today was the day.  The day we got things under control.

We started under the stairs, pulling out all the randomly place baby items and packing things in boxes according to function- maternity clothes, baby supplies, baby clothes according to size, Christmas and Halloween decorations, wrapping paper and gift boxes, etc.  Now the area under the stairs is organized and clean and I keep opening the door just to check it out.  Gone is the hanging ghost leftover from Halloween that my son used run from every time we went down to the basement.

Next, the furnace room.  It really shouldn't have anything stored in it at all.  I watch those home renovation shows; the ones that remind me that proper air circulation is necessary in that area and that stored boxes create a fire hazard.  It's enough to keep me up at night.  Now, the items have been removed and sorted into their appropriate boxes.  Except for a box of cassette tapes that I'd like to pretend I'm too young to own and an antique vacuum cleaner that we inherited from our old apartment and felt the need to bring with us to our new house.  Even though we've never used it and there's central vacuum in our house.  It's avocado green and looks like that cute robot from Star Wars.  It stays.

Finally we hit up the cold room.  That room is lined with plain wooden shelves that we managed to fill with all manner of things in no particular order.  We boxed most of it up and placed it all on the farthest shelves from the entrance and voila! A clean, spacious cold room ready to do what it was built for- keep my canned goods, onions and potatoes cold. 

The next step will be preparing the play room to be a useful space for not only my son, but also my husband and myself.  Storage for toys, comfy, functional furniture and some sort of a fireplace or safe heater.... but that's a post for another day!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Five Things on a Friday: Random Thoughts

1- I'd like to wish my friend Sonia a very happy 5th wedding anniversary.  I was there when she met her hubby, saw their beautiful backyard wedding (anyone who thinks backyard weddings can't be sophisticated and stylish need to check out their photos), and have watched them bring two gorgeous children into this world together.  May they enjoy many more years together.

2- If I hear NO one more time from my two year old today I may lose my mind.

3- New York Fries are gluten free.  It is our go-to indulgence when I take my son to the food court and it makes me happy to know that there will always be at least one food court option that is available to him. He enjoyed them today with a side of blueberries from home!

4- Family bathrooms in malls with the little toilets close to the ground for kids are the best thing to happen to public washrooms since, well, ever.  My little guy liked using it so much we had to go back twice.

5- Someone forgot to tell mother nature that it's summer.  I'm tired of the rain. 

Have a fantastic weekend.  I'll be back tomorrow and as always, will post my menu plan on Sunday!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thank You!

I was checking my stats yesterday, and I realized that I've reached a few milestones with this blog.  First, this is my 199th post, so tomorrow's post will be my 200th post since starting on December 3rd, 2010.  Those who know me personally wouldn't be surprised that I've found 200 things to chat about in the past 7 months! 

What I'm pleasantly surprised about is the fact that people are reading what I chat about!  Yesterday my blog passed 10 000 page views.  This may be small potatoes to those of you with super-popular blogs that average that many hits a month, but for me, this is cause for celebration! 

I owe everyone who has taken a peek at my blog over the past 7 months a gigantic THANK YOU!  Whether you're a regular reader or only check in occasionally to see what's new, I appreciate it.  Knowing that people are reading encourages me to continue to post everyday, and to keep looking for new things to talk about. 

If you're new to the site and haven't had the chance to really look around, start with the About Me tab to get an idea of what I'm all about! 

The Menu Plan tab includes the weekly dinners I serve my family, all gluten free and dairy free.  I update it weekly.

The Recipes tab includes some of the recipes I enjoy preparing, and is updated regularly. 

Gluten Free Travel has posts about places I've been, and is a mixture of personal experience posts and recommendations of things to do and where to find great gluten free food.  This tab gets updated every time I travel.  Over the course of the summer, there will be posts about Rice Lake, Ontario and Washington, DC. 

Product Reviews includes all the reviews I've written about products and services, mainly related to living gluten free.  This tab gets updated every time I post a review.

The About GF/Celiac tab is next on my list to update.  I've been compiling information to add to the tab, and the plan is to have it up and functional by the end of the summer. 

Finally, the 100 in 2011 tab is where I post the books I've read over the course of the year.  I signed up for a reading challenge, to read 100 books in 2011.  Click on the tab to learn more and sign-up for the challenge yourself!  I post the titles and the authors there, and I'm open to suggestions.  I would love to hear what you're reading or any recommendations you may have!

I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you to check out some of the fabulous blogs that I follow as well.  Scroll down the right hand side of the blog to find my blog list.  It updates regularly, showing the five blogs with the most recent posts.  Some of these bloggers were the first to follow my blog, and a good deal of my traffic was generated, especially in the beginning, from their sites.  These bloggers are funny, smart, interesting and well worth a read. 

Finally, if you're interested in following, you can click on the Follow tab on the right hand side, or you can enter your email address in the Receive Updates in Your Inbox box to get my daily posts delivered right to your inbox every day. 

Happy reading, and THANK YOU again for making this blog a success!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

My son and his cousin Mya, playing on the quintessential piece of backyard equipment, the swing set!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Too cute for words

We spent Father's Day at my parents' house, enjoying the sunshine and spending the day in the backyard.  We put my son down for his nap in his cousin's room upstairs, and headed back outside.  About an hour later, I went in to check on him.  As I stepped into the kitchen from the back porch, this is the sight that greeted me:

He must have gotten side-tracked by the bag on his way outside and decided to wedge himself into a corner with the bag of veggie chips.  Thankfully they're gluten free!  Some moments are meant to be captured for posterity.  That little grin says it all!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Health Update: Gastro Visit

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you already know that my son reacts badly to anything containing dairy or gluten.  After putting him on a gluten free diet in late October 2010, his health did a major turn around and all of his nasty symptoms disappeared.  The question became: Could it be celiac? (hence the URL and the blog title).  We declined the biopsy for the time being because he had already been gluten free for a few months and putting him back on the diet for the 2-3 months necessary to get an accurate result was hurting his health too much.  He was losing weight rapidly, with constant diarrhea and was lethargic and miserable.  Our family doctor sent him to be tested for allergies (he was tested for both wheat and dairy), and he tested negative.  Since it was clear that he was reacting to gluten, our family doctor felt that the symptoms were close enough that she wrote a diagnosis to the effect that he had enough symptoms to treat for celiac (meaning a strict gluten-free diet). 

The specialist at the hospital who we saw my son in December led us through a range of possibilities that included full-blown celiac, but that also ranged from a wheat allergy to a gluten intolerance.  At the time of his visit we had not yet seen the pediatric allergist.  The hospital did blood work that showed that Etienne was low in iron and vitamin D.  He suggested coming back for a follow-up appointment in 6 months.  He also suggested re-exposing our son to gluten or wheat to see what happened.  While we didn't do this voluntarily, our son has been exposed to gluten 3 times since December, each with the same result: rash (2 of the 3 times), bloating, gas, diarrhea for about 2 weeks post exposure, mood and behaviour changes and increased appetite. 

Today was the six month follow up.  Thankfully, our son has gained some height and weight since the last visit.  The doctor indicated that he was in the healthy range and was pleased to see an improvement.  He asked what we were feeding him, and said that his diet seemed to be working and that it was nutritionally sound.  We went through the list of how my son had responded to being exposed to gluten, and he agreed that there was clearly a problem.  But we're no clearer to receiving consensus on his condition than we were before. 

The doctor wonders whether there is a wheat or a gluten allergy at work, rather than full-blown celiac.  Despite the fact that my son has already tested negative for a wheat allergy.  Just like the celiac test, allergy tests can often be inconclusive or show negative in young children.  He suggested keeping him on the gluten free diet because it's working, and having our son allergy tested again when he's three, and then possibly every year after that if the test comes back negative.  We also have the option to try and feed him gluten based products again in the future for long enough to get an accurate biopsy done, but since his reaction is so severe, the doctor agreed that it might be better to wait until he's older provided the allergy tests continue to come back negative. 

So, what does this change?  Nothing. 

Whether this turns out to be celiac, gluten intolerance, gluten allergy or a wheat allergy, the treatment remains the same: a strict gluten free diet.  The exception comes if it's a specific wheat allergy, in which case gluten from other sources could be introduced into the diet.  But since most processed foods with gluten take it from a wheat source, it might be more complicated for my son as a child to discern between the different sources.  And if/until that distinction is made, he didn't recommend changing anything in his diet in regards to gluten.  The doctor also mentioned that if it is a wheat allergy, it is more likely to get worse rather than better over time, so the question of "will he grow out of it" is No, whether it's celiac or not.

So that's where we stand.  Could it be celiac? Gluten intolerance? A wheat allergy?  Only time will tell.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

First of all, Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful Dads out there!  I'll be posting a few photos of our Father's Day celebration tomorrow (including what was on the menu!) but today, I wanted to get the weekly menu plan up as usual.




Monday: Tuna & Zucchini Pasta Bake & Chopped Salad













Tuesday: Rhubarb Chicken & Oil & Vinegar 
Shredded Salad








Wednesday: Quinoa Stuffed Peppers, Baked Asparagus with
Mayo Dipping Sauce
















Thursday: Lentil Vegetable Soup     









Friday: Leftover Rhubarb Chicken & Spinach Mashed  
Potatoes

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Landscaping on a Hot, Sunny Saturday

The little strip of land between my neighbour's house and my own has been a bit of an eyesore since we moved in two years ago.  Our neighbours moved in not long after we did, and as a result we had both inherited this unfortunate little eyesore with so much potential, but a crazy mix of landscaping elements. It was a mixture of a few dangerously leaning umbrella trees, a lovely but sadly misplaced tall tree, wood chips, weeds, and ROCKS of all shapes and sizes. 

We ignored it the summer we moved in because there were other things to be done.

Last summer, we discussed options with the new neighbours and settled on the idea of ripping everything up and just laying down some nice new grass.  They had just finished some renovating in their own house, and so we decided to wait.

This summer, we finally decided that the time was right.  So this morning, armed with a saw, an axe, some shovels, rakes and a wheelbarrow (not to mention about 25 lawn and garden bags), we set to work.  First, down came the trees.

We sawed, hacked, pulled out roots, cut up branches and packed the remains away in lawn bags.  Then came the wood chips and the endless supply of rocks.  Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of rocks went into my neighbours' yard and under their deck. 

The weeds, ivy vines, flower bulbs (of flowers that hadn't popped up since all the rocks had been thrown on top), and weeds all came out.  We tilled the soil, leveled it all out, and rolled out the grass.  

Sounds easy, right?  All in all, the project took 8 hours to complete.  It wasn't a complicated job, just time consuming and physically tiring.  But we were in good company, and the time literally flew by. 

And now we have a lovely little strip of grass that I am proud to share with my neighbours.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Asparagus Bundles (Recipe from Carron Farms Harvest Food Share)

After receiving my harvest food share delivery on Wednesday, I couldn't help but try out the recipe of the week, the Asparagus bundles with homemade vinaigrette.  It made a great side dish, and a pretty presentation.


Here's the Recipe from Carron Farms

Roasted Asparagus Bundles with Lemon Vinaigrette
3/4 lb Fresh Asparagus, woody stems removed
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper To Taste

Vinaigrette Ingredients
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 - 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl toss the asparagus in the olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Spread the stalks out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast until tender but still firm and moist, about 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the mustard and lemon juice. 
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking quickly to emulsify the olive oil into the juice mixture. 
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss together the roasted asparagus and vinaigrette. May be eaten warm or cold. 

I tied the bundle together with one of their garlic scapes.  Even my asparagus-hating husband liked it, because he likes anything that has lemon on it.  Almost impossible to go wrong with this easy side dish.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fresh, Local Produce

Last year, we signed up for a weekly produce delivery service that ran through the summer and fall.  We liked it so much that we signed up for it again this year, upgrading from the personal box to the family sized one.  For 20 weeks (June through the end of October), we will receive a box filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables based on what's in season in Ontario at the time.

Here's how it works:

A local Ontario farm, Carron Farms, organizes the service and works with other local farms to provide a variety of fresh vegetables (and some fruit) every week from June through the end of October.  The farm is located a bit too far for us to drive out and pick the box up every week, so we signed up for the home delivery service for an extra few dollars a week.  They drop off the box on our front step every Wednesday.  Yesterday was the first delivery.


Since it's still the beginning of the season, the box is still a bit smaller than it will get as time goes on, but it's enough for us.
We received:

-a large bag of asparagus
-two tomatoes
-a bunch of rhubarb
-a zucchini
-a cucumber
-4 bell peppers
-a bag of mushrooms
-a head of lettuce
-a bunch of spinach
-a bunch of radishes


Along with our produce, we receive an email telling us where each item comes from and includes storage tips.  There is also a weekly featured item, with a recipe to go along with it.  This week's featured item was asparagus.  The recipe is for Roasted Asparagus Bundles tied with garlic scape and tossed in a homemade vinaigrette.  YUMMY!

I like that by being a part of this program I am also supporting local farmers and cutting down on my carbon footprint by eating foods that didn't have to travel hundreds of miles to get to my home.  Everything is really fresh and comes from farms that are certified as having sustainable farming practices.  Some, but not all, of the produce is organic as well. 

I also look forward to trying new vegetables that I wouldn't regularly buy, and adding to my recipe collection.  Last year we ate turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, and a few other things that aren't normally on my radar.  We ate a rutabaga gratin for Thanksgiving and scalloped turnips on more than one occasion.  Since many of the recipes are gluten free as well, this is an added bonus that I wasn't concerned with last year but really appreciate this time around.

And it's affordable.  My initial decision to sign up last year was based on a cost comparison I did.  I compared each item on the "sample" box list on the farm's website, and priced it out online with the supermarket I regularly shop at.  Even with the delivery charge, the price was comparable.  That sold me.  This year, I signed up because the service last year was so good.  The delivery guy was friendly, the produce was always fresh and varied from week to week.  And I was finally putting my money where my mouth is.  I believe strongly in supporting the local economy, I believe in supporting local farmers and in eating food that is as fresh as possible.

I can do that with this program, in an affordable way.  And it all gets delivered right to my front door.  What more could I ask for?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Support of Family and Friends

Allie at Little Baby Fields left me a comment the other day on THIS post, mentioning how lucky I am to have friends who support me and my son's dietary restrictions.  She's been making some changes in her family's eating habits, and wrote an interesting post about the responses she's been getting from the people in her life when they learn about how she's trying to support her children's health through nutrition.  It's worth a read-just click on the link above to go to her blog. 

There are a few differences between Allie's family and my own; namely that I changed my son's diet initially because the food was making him physically ill in a very obvious way.  THIS is my inaugural blog post that briefly explains his situation, but rereading it now makes it plain to me that I will have to expand on it in a future post. 
Tired, lethargic, miserable.  This was how he typically looked.

Rash on his face

To make a long story short, removing gluten and dairy from his diet allowed him to regain his lost weight, cleared up his rashes, and eliminated his diarrhea.  It made him physically healthy again.  It also had other unexpected consequences, such as an almost immediate change in his behaviour for the better, and eliminated the out of control temper tantrums that could sometimes continue for over half an hour.  Allie is changing her family's diet for her own reasons, which you can read about on her blog.  I guess it could be argued that we changed our son's diet out of necessity, and she is changing hers by choice, but if you really read her reasoning carefully, I believe that she's doing it out of necessity as well. 

At the end of the day though, we are both ultimately working for the health and well-being of our children.  And as she notes, I am very lucky indeed to have family and friends who not only support me, but who go out of their way to make my son's food restrictions a non-issue. 

Here are just a few examples:

-My parents and my sister have dedicated cooking pots and utensils to use when preparing food for my son, and have an "Etienne" corner of the snack cupboard full of gluten and dairy free snacks.  My sister even made her daughter's entire birthday party gluten free so that my son wouldn't be left out
Gluten and Dairy Free Cake for my niece's birthday
-My friend Alana offered to order gluten free pizza and buy a gluten free cupcake for my son at her daughter's birthday party

-The daycare supervisor handed my husband an order form for an allergy friendly magazine that she had picked up in the hospital emergency room over the weekend, while waiting to be seen by the doctor with her daughter.  She said she saw the magazine and immediately thought of us.  She also told us that she would be providing gluten free hot dogs for our son at the Family BBQ this Friday.  Now we don't have to bring our own.

-My friend Sonia regularly sends me emails and links to gluten free sights, products and information that she thinks might be useful to me.  She also always brings along a gluten free snack when she comes to see us.
Mmmm...gluten free chips!


-One of my colleagues at work sent me an email with her home phone number immediately after hearing about my son.  Her husband and son are both diagnosed with celiac.

-Whenever we go to visit friends, we call to ask what's on the menu so that we can provide something similar for our son.  I would say that nine times out of ten, the host has already planned to have a few items available that my son can safely consume.  
At a friend's Christmas party, munching on marshmallows just for him


-I was almost bombarded with messages of support, resources, links, products, etc. from friends and family when we first found out that our son would no longer be able to consume gluten.  After the initial "But he might grow out of it, right?", and our "No" response, there was just a general acceptance that this was going to be our new normal.

It hasn't all been easy- understanding how easy it is to cross-contaminate someone with gluten is a complicated thing, and he's been served food that he's not supposed to eat by people who were trying to be careful but missed an ingredient or didn't adequately separate his food during the preparation process.  Overall though, I feel that my friends and family have gone out of their way to learn about how to provide food for my son that is safe and healthy. 

I can't imagine how tough it would be to have to justify our actions, or to be told that our son was not welcome somewhere because of his food restrictions.  I'm sure the time will come when he will feel left out of some event, or when someone will be unnecessarily insensitive, and we'll have to teach him how to handle those situations. 

Within our immediate circle however, I feel that we've been blessed with some pretty fabulous, supporting individuals.  We are lucky indeed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gluten, Dairy and Nut Free Gathering

Yesterday a friend of mine came over for lunch with her two kids.  My son is gluten and dairy free, and her daughter is nut free, but it didn't stop us from providing a fantastic meal for everyone. 

My friend brought along:
-lentil chips & hummus
-organic strawberries
-tea

And I provided:
-BBQ chicken
-Greek Salad (the only thing my son couldn't have, but he's not a huge salad fan)
-Vegetable platter
-Nacho chips and salsa
-Veggie Chips

The kids ate everything put in front of them and even shared a bowl of nacho chips:

 

Nothing fancy, nothing fussy, just simple finger foods that we were able to pick up at the grocery store and put out with minimal effort.  The focus wasn't on the food.  It was on catching up with a friend and watching our children try to catch bubbles, invent new ways to go down a slide, and just generally run around until they were exhausted.  That's the way it should be. 

And it was a lot of fun!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weekly Gluten Free Menu Plan



Monday: Steak Salad with Avocado in a Honey Lime Dressing  & Gluten and Dairy Free Cornbread
(Salad will be made tomorrow)

 


Tuesday: Apple Butter Glazed Pork Chops with Caramelized Carrots and Onions 

 







 Wednesday: Peperoncino Spaghetti 










Thursday:  Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes    
(This is my son's daycare lunch for tomorrow-cornbread in place of
the potatoes)





 Friday:  We have the Daycare's annual family picnic on Friday, so we'll be bringing some gluten free hot dogs along.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

But I don't see a birthday party....

After reminding my son that he would be going to a birthday party today for one of my friend's daughters, my son ran into the living room, looked around and said "But I don't see a birthday party??"  and then looked around the room like the party would jump out at him.  I love when he randomly throws out little gems like that, they make me laugh out loud. 

We did eventually get to the party, and he had a great time.  We made some Something Good cupcakes and brought them along, and he happily chowed down on those instead of cake.  We got a few curious glances from a few of the people we didn't know, but nobody asked, so I didn't offer any apologies or explanations.

My friend is aware of my son's gluten and dairy issues and had actually offered to provide some gluten free pizza and a gluten free cupcake for us.  I didn't want her to go out of her way, so I provided my own for him, and brought extras in case anyone wanted to try.  I felt that as long as my friend and I had worked out a suitable plan for my son that unless someone asked, I didn't really need to get into it.  I welcome the opportunity to explain about celiac & gluten intolerance issues, but I don't feel the need to randomly start discussing it with every person I meet. My focus at events like birthday parties is on providing safe, delicious food alternatives for him that are as close to what other children are eating as possible.  Mission Accomplished.

Tomorrow, we're hosting a friend of mine and her two children for lunch.  The last time they visited, THIS is what we had.  I haven't finalized the plan for tomorrow, but it will be a gluten, dairy, and nut free meal.  It will preferably also be delicious!  I haven't seen my friend in a few months, so it will be great to catch up face-to-face.  It's always better than over email or on the phone.


The menu plan will still go up tomorrow, so be sure to check back. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five Things on a Friday: The Things I Own Are Staging a Revolt

I'm not kidding.  In the past week, the following has taken place:

1- My microwave began to spark, shooting small flames into the cooking area and making the kind of short-circuit noises that should only be heard in bad sci-fi or horror films.

2- My husband accidentally turned on the element of the stove that the kettle was sitting on, burning almost all the way through the cord.

3- Did I mention that the kettle was plugged in at the time?  No?  It was plugged in to the plug on the stove, causing a mini explosion and making the plug unusable.

4- This was when my mother told me that bad things happen in threes.  Perhaps she meant multiples of three, because then one night this week the wind was so crazy that it snapped the umbrella pole in our patio set in half.  The pole was made of METAL.  And it snapped in half.  Sigh. 

5- To add insult to injury, the coffee pot decided that it would rather steam the water than actually pass it through the filter and make me some coffee.  Three tries later, it finally brewed me a proper cup of coffee, but I know it's just waiting for the right moment to make my life miserable again.  I don't cope well without coffee.

Honestly, I could swear there's an eighties movie about household appliances turning on their owners.  And while nothing has actively tried to KILL me yet, I do smell a bit of rebellion in the air.  Perhaps I'll have to start rounding up the troublemakers and replacing them with some new recruits. 

I'm looking at you, microwave.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

There's nothing like seeing how I waste my time in black and white

So I've been determined to use my time better lately, because, you know, I need to cram more things into my day- so I created a time chart to keep track of how I spend my time in half hour increments.  The purpose of this little exercise is to identify how I can be more effective.  It's like a medieval torture device, actually having to own up to all the ways I waste my time.  Actually, the purpose of the exercise is not so much to find out how I waste my time, but rather to see if the way I'm spending my time is really the way I want to spend my time. 

Here's an example of what I mean:  Let's say, hypothetically of course, that I just feel that I have no time to fit in 3 twenty minute workouts a week for my jogging plan, but then I look at my schedule and see that I spend 3 hours watching a hockey game or 1 hour watching a TV show.  What's the better use of my time?  The answer doesn't have to be the workout (although it should be).  The point of the exercise is to make a conscious choice about how I want to spend my time, and then to rearrange those things within my control to make that happen.

This has become important to me because there are a few dreams in my life I've been looking to make more time for, and I think that my fear of trying something new has led me to use the "I have no time" excuse to avoid dedicating time to them.  The 5k goal is one of those things, because damn if the first week of that program didn't kill me.  And I know that 3 or 4 years ago, it would have been a piece of cake.

The second dream is finishing my novel, which is pretty much done, I just keep avoiding going back and editing.  In all fairness, my thesis kind of took over for a long time, but now that the first draft is in I can't exactly use that as an excuse anymore.  Scheduling regular writing time is important to me, both for what I'm currently working on but also because I love to write and would like to start working on some other stories.
 I also have some dreams for this blog, as well as a business idea I've been toying with but haven't really had (or made) the time to focus on. 

Since I'm going back to work full-time in the fall, I'm going to have to have this time-priority thing under my belt if I don't want to give up on all these dreams.  Between working and spending time with my family, I'll have less personal time, so I'll have to be more disciplined with the free time I actually have.  Hence the chart. 

So far, the biggest change I've made is getting up a half hour earlier.  My long-term goal is to get up 60 minutes earlier than my family in order to write my blog posts in the morning before the day starts and perhaps get in some writing or a workout before having breakfast with my husband and son. 

I'm sure there are some other places where my priorities are out of order.  In the interests of opening up time for the things that really matter, the chart will be my new best friend for the next two weeks while I lay out all my time-sucking activities in black and white. 

Like playoff hockey. 

At least I can multi-task while the game is on.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011