Thursday, 8 January 2015

On New Year's Resulotions

Okay, so we're more than a week into the New Year, and I kind of missed the deadline for making my new year's resolutions. Well, good thing I don't make new year's resolutions.

Last year, I wrote a lovely post that briefly rehashed the previous year, and made the following statement for the coming year:

I can't really tell you what's in store for the next twelve months, in fact I don't really have anything planned at all. I am looking forward to blogging, baking, cooking, and having awesome adventures with the love of my life. I hope the next year is filled with blessings, happiness, fun and good friends for all of us. 
So, let's rehash last year again, even though you were here for all of it.

It's a good thing that I told you I didn't have any plans or know what was in store, because I absolutely could not have predicted the way that 2014 went, even if I tried.

Nobody expected my husband to get laid off in March, and end up unemployed for a little while, and really that act itself spun out most of the rest of the year. Because he had suddenly lost what he thought was a really secure job, we began considering moving, something we had previously agreed not to do. 

Also, no one expected awkward little me to start dancing, and getting really into it. It's become my first ever real hobby. Something I spend my spare time doing, something I want to travel to do more, something I think about almost every day.

And, of course, no one at all expected my sister to get married in June! That took a lot of people by surprise, but it made me very happy.

I bought my first (picked by me) car in January. I got my third tattoo in February (to celebrate my one year anniversary with Celiac). My husband and I started taking ballroom lessons in February. I was a bridesmaid for the first time in May and Maid of Honour for the first time in June. I went to a John Legend concert on my birthday in June. I left my part-time job somewhere in between the weddings. I starting job-hunting in Saskatoon in July, and left my full-time job in August. I officially moved to Saskatoon with my husband in September, about a week before our third anniversary.

As I had hoped, my last year was filled with happiness, fun and good friends. I've had plenty of adventures and new experiences. I've learned a lot - a year ago, I had no clue how to ballroom dance, and I had no idea what any agriculture or construction equipment was. I've also grown a lot. I feel like I've grown into myself, in a way.

It hasn't been smooth sailing the whole way, however... My husband bounced around jobs more than he ever has before, and that was hard. Moving away from the only town I've ever lived in was more difficult than I expected. I lost some close friends, which my heart still grieves. My husband also spend several months working long periods of time away from home.

But those negative moments have all been overshadowed the happy, fun moments. I've made so many friends since moving to Saskatoon, and I've had so many adventures. I've tried new things, I've taken chances, and I've put an emphasis on being content in life.

As for 2015, I guess I'll say pretty much the same about 2014... I don't have any plans, I just want to be happy, whatever happens. I want to make the most of every situation. In a less vague way, I want to travel, I want to try something new, I want to make memories with my husband, and I want to grow as a person.

So happy new year... and may this year be your best one yet.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tutti Frutti

Let's talk about frozen yogurt for a moment.

I have always been an ice cream kind of gal. I love a big bowl of creamy frozen milk, and it was a staple growing up. It's kind of hard now, because dairy makes me so sick and I just don't think that bowl of frozen deliciousness is worth it. I occasionally buy dairy-free ice creams, but they always let me down.

The other problem I have with ice cream is when it comes to a last-minute date. Our old house was a block away from a cute little ice cream shop, so in the summer, hubby and I would walk the dog down and take a little "date" out of our day to enjoy some ice cream.

Well, that's great. And I love it, but again, I don't love feeling sick afterwards.

Now, our new house is a few blocks away from Tutti Frutti (and by few, I mean a few too many to walk). Several times since we've moved, my husband and I have driven over and enjoyed some time together there.

If you've never been to Tutti Frutti before, they usually have ten or so different flavours of frozen yogurt, and you grab a bowl and fill with as much of whatever flavour you like. Then they have a topping bar, and you can put anything from sprinkles to cookies to candies to fruit on top of your fro-yo. And then you pay by the weight.

Every time I've been, they have two dairy-free flavours, usually one soy-based ice cream, and one fruit sorbet. I usually get a little of each, and while I can't enjoy any of the toppings, my husband does. (It's buffet style. Having one dish of cookies means I can't touch anything on there. And then the sprinkles and carmel sauce are iffy, so I just enjoy my plain dairy-free dessert.)

I love it. I get to enjoy my pseudo-ice cream, my husband gets to enjoy his completely-overloaded-frozen-yogurt and we get to spend a little time together.

If you're in the mood for a sugar coma, or if you're looking to go out and enjoy dairy-free dessert, check out Tutti Fruitt!

Tutti Frutti on Urbanspoon

Monday, 6 October 2014

Panago Pizza

Ordering in pizza is hard, as a celiac. Most pizza places carry a gluten-free crust, but their contamination policies vary, and it's hard to say whether it'll be safe or not. However, because ordering in pizza is the most convenient, simple, and tasty dinner ever, I keep doing it, despite the risks. When we lived in Moose Jaw, we tried a couple of different places, and I always tried each place more than once. But if it made me sick more than once, I gave up and moved on to another place. There was only one place I could consistently eat without getting sick, and my husband didn't like their pizza. So ordering in pizza was actually quite the ordeal.

On the day that we moved to Saskatoon, we had several people helping us unload, and we were all hungry, so I went online and ordered in some pizza.

I picked Panago, on a whim, and I don't know if I'll ever try anywhere else ever again.

Their online ordering system is smooth, straight-forward and very customizable.

They do have a gluten-free crust, which I think is bigger than most places, but it's been awhile since I ordered in pizza, so don't quote me on that. The best part though, is that you can select Daiya dairy-free cheese to top your pizza with!

So I ordered in a gluten-free, dairy-free pizza with all the toppings I wanted (they have a list of gluten-free toppings, so you're sure) and I didn't get sick at all! There wasn't any dairy to upset my stomach, and I didn't get glutened! We've ordered it in three times now, and I've had the same success.

My husband wants to keep trying other places that we didn't have in Moose Jaw, but they don't have dairy-free cheese, so I'm reluctant. Haha.

I realize most of my friends who don't have dietary restrictions prefer other places, but if you are worried about either gluten or dairy, I would highly recommend Panago.  

Panago Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, 3 October 2014

London Jack's Fish & Chips in Regina

Inconveniently, I fell in love with a restaurant in Regina, shortly after I moved to Saskatoon. I don't know the next time I'll be in Regina, but I promise whenever that is, I will be eating at London Jack's Authentic British Fish & Chips. As their name might suggest, they specialize in authentic fish & chips, and everything deep-fried.

Wait. Why is a celiac going to a restaurant that deep fries everything? Well, because not only do they have gluten-free flour and batter, they have a dedicated gluten-free deep frier. What? That's right! Dedicated gluten-free fish and chips. Deep-fried, just like everybody else!

They have a very small restaurant, with an order counter and three small tables. The deep friers are behind the counter, and you can watch the cooks work while you wait for your take-out (unless one of the tables happens to be open). I did watch, because I'm paranoid, and I noticed that they have a whole bunch of green utensils, and anything that's green only gets used for gluten-free orders. I don't even need to tell them it's an allergy, they treat it like one anyways.

I was blown away, and super excited.

Hubby and I went to this restaurant a couple weeks ago when we were in Regina. We had a hard time finding it, but I was determined. When we got there, I scoped it out, and asked a bunch of questions, and when I was satisfied that I could really, truly have battered fish and french fries, I ordered just that! Hubby ordered the same, but with regular batter, and we sat down to wait.

One small thing that amazed me was when the next guy walked up and ordered some fish, and the server asked "Gluten-free or regular?" Gluten-free isn't a side choice there, on a seperate menu that you have to know about. It's right up there with everything else they serve. Their menu is just a laminated piece of paper on the counter, and the items on the menu are all either in black or green font. The green items are ones that are gluten-free. So I don't have to check if I can have the deep-fried pickles. I just have to select a green item. How awesome is that?

On top of being awesomely gluten-free friendly, they also make the most amazing fish and chips I've ever had. Seriously. I'm not a fish and chips kind of person, but this was the best I've ever had. They also serve deep-fried pickles, mars bars or cola. Yeah, cola. We got some deep-fried Dr Pepper for dessert. It was awesome.

I would highly reccomend this place whether or not you eat gluten-free. I would, however, suggest planning for takeout. But other than their small storefront, there is not a bad thing I could say about this place. So check it out, as soon as you can!

London Jack's Authentic British Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Opa! of Greece in Saskatoon

Eating out for lunch is a wee bit difficult, because I work in an industrial area, and there aren't very many restaurants close enough to make it there and back in an hour, and even less of them have gluten-free options.

But when my friend asks if I want to make a lunch date, how can I say no?

I had recently eaten at the best GF places in the area, so I did some UrbanSpoon research, and suggested Opa!

The North Industrial location opened recently, within the last month I think. As such, there weren't very many reviews on UrbanSpoon, but they were rated gluten-free friendly, and the company's website had a small, limited gluten-free menu posted.

The lunch hour was crazy busy, with a line all the way back to the door from the moment I walked in until I left to go back to work. When I got to the front of the line, I told the girl that I had a gluten allergy. She immediatly pulled out a gluten-free menu, and I quickly ordered off of that. I also asked if she could make note that it was an allergy, and she enthusiastically nodded and pushed a bunch of buttons.

I ordered a small greek salad, a lamb souvlaki and a chicken souvlaki. Since my friend ordered before me, when she was called up to select what went on her wrap, I followed to watch how they made my food.

The girl at the counter (a different girl from the till) handled my friend's pita, touching the wrap itself with her gloves, and after handing it off, she pulled out a plate and spooned some salad onto it. I was bothered that she didn't change her gloves, but I didn't want to be that person so I didn't say anything, until a piece of lettuce fell off the plate onto the crumby counter and she picked it up with her gloves and put it back on my plate.

I stepped forward. "Is that the greek salad?"


"Could you actually change your gloves?"


"It's an allergy. Could you change your gloves?"

She looked the the slip of paper in front of her that I knew had my order on it and rolled her eyes. "You want me to remake this?" She looked a little indignant, and I felt bad, but I nodded. She tossed the small salad in the garbage, and slowly changed her gloves. Then she went through the same process of spooning out my salad and added two skewers of meat on top.

A couple more things bothered me, but I let them drop.

First of all, she didn't wipe down the counter or use a fresh spoon. Two small things that would make a big difference to me. Second, while spooning out my second salad, she asked her coworker to start making the next pita (since, you know, changing her gloves really put her back...).

So here are my problems with this restaurant... They have a gluten-free menu, and the girl at the till understood and seemed positive about an allergy, so I was hopeful. I thought that if she is knowledgeable and helpful, surely I'll be fine, right? Wrong. The people making the food have clearly not been trained on how to handle an allergy, which I would expect from a restaurant that rates itself as gluten-free friendly on UrbanSpoon.

I mean, sure. It's not 100% gluten-free and I'm taking a risk, and blah blah blah, but a business needs to train their food handlers on how to handle an allergy. What if it was an anaphylactic allergy like garlic or nuts? Would she have taken it seriously? Honestly, I doubt it. And that's a major health concern.

Oh, and I got sick. Yep, changing her gloves wasn't enough. I have my headache, fogginess, stomach pains and all the other wonderful symptoms that go along with accidentally consuming gluten. I'm sad, but I don't think I'll be able to go back to Opa! again.

However, my friend thouroughly enjoyed her pita/wrap thing, and the restaurant was clean, quick and delicious. If you eat gluten-free because of a preference, or if you don't care to eat gluten-free, I would reccomend this place. However, if you have an allergy of any sorts, I wouldn't bother going here. If you absolutely have to, maybe call ahead and ask about their allergy procedures...

Opa! of Greece on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Conversations about Crackers

N: "Hey, do you want some crackers? They're healthy."

J: "Well of course they are. They're not poison."

N: "Oh, Robynne, do you want some?"

R: "No thanks."

J: "Why? Do you think they'll poison you?" (Obviously joking)

R: "Umm, actually they would."

N: "Oh, are you allergic to something?"

R: "Yep."

N: "Is it gluten?"

R: "Yep."

N: "Preference or allergy?" (And immediately got distracted by someone else talking to her for a few seconds.)

J: "Oh, it's a preference, but I bet she says it's an allergy."

Umm... excuse me?

A) You have no place saying that, ever. About anyone. To make an assumption that someone is attention-needy and dramatic is rude, assuming, and officially classifies you as a jerk.

B) You don't know me well enough to make a joke, if that's what you were trying to do.

C) If you did know me better, you would know that I have celiac disease (which is not an allergy) and that people who don't eat gluten out of preference but go around saying it's an allergy are the people that make my life the most difficult.

D) I wish I had a preference. I wish I was turning those crackers down by choice. I wish I had made this decision for myself. I only wish that I had any say in whether or not I eat gluten.

So before you go saying judgmental, rude, assuming statements about somebody, maybe get to know them first.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the above conversation, it did continue...

R: (After staring at J for a solid few seconds, I regained my composure.) "I have celiac disease."

J: "What?"

R: "I have celiac disease."

J: "What's that?"

R: "It's an auto-immune disorder." (I know I was being unhelpful, I was still a little thrown off, and I figured if someone is going to go around saying that other people call it an allergy, they would at least know what an allergy sounds like.)

N: (Finally able to rejoin the conversation.) "It means she can't eat gluten because her body attacks itself."

And that was pretty much the end of that whole conversation. I was really impressed by N who had knowledge of gluten preference, allergy and celiac disease, without having anyone in her immediate life who is afflicted.

And I was really upset at J. I don't even care if he's ignorant and unaware and the general public needs more education. That was rude.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Home is Where the Heart Is

For the last two weeks, I have been confusedly referring to both my house in Moose Jaw and the place I'm staying in Saskatoon as home.

After a couple of days at "home" in Moose Jaw, I drove "home" to Saskatoon, and was trying to figure out why it's not bothering me that I think of both as home.

Well, home is where the heart is.

So, where is my heart?

Half of my heart is here in Saskatoon, in the big city, filled with people I care about, places I want to go, events I want to attend. I feel at home here, because my heart is here.

But half of my heart is still in Moose Jaw, because my husband is there.

And sure, the house he's still living in feels like home because it's filled with our furniture, boxes of our stuff, and our pets, but mostly it's home because that's where the other half of my heart is.

I'm not going to feel complete until he is here.

I'm not going to feel truly at home anywhere for another two weeks.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Very First Fried Chicken

Have you ever made fried chicken? I hadn't.

I've made baked, "breaded" chicken and I've made cutlets, which is beef or pork breaded and fried, but I had never made friend chicken. Guess that goes to show how far North I must live. ;)

My sister and I (absurdly) married fellows who share a birthday. Since they only just got married, we agreed we had to do something with the four of us, and settled on cooking dinner at their brand new house.

Growing up, my family's birthday tradition was that my mom would make your favourite meal (or whatever you requested) on your birthday. My sister and I tried to get our husbands to name their favourite meal so we could cook that, but neither would. So I suggested mashed potatoes and cutlets, which was probably the most common birthday meal in our family. Everyone agreed, and my sister and I went out to buy the groceries. We found everything except the cutlets... So we bought chicken fillets instead, and called it good.

I breaded the chicken, and as I was setting them in the frying pan, I realized I was making fried chicken. The two guys then thought it completely absurd that I had never made fried chicken, although I've never even had homemade fried chicken.

Anyways, I was really concerned that making it gluten-free would make it less good, but everyone was amazed at how good it was and insisted they couldn't tell.

I used white rice flour, rather than a GF flour blend, and I bought some rice bread crumbs, both of which I doubted.

I followed my mother's instructions on making cutlets. I mixed some seasoning salt into the flour, then coated the raw chicken in that. Then it got a raw egg bath, before being covered in bread crumbs and dumped in the frying pan. My sister got a fancy-dancy fried chicken frying pan for her wedding, which is extra deep and has a screen lid. I had probably an inch of melted margarine in the pan (forgot to pick up olive oil, might try coconut oil next time), and I fried it until it looked done. I warned everyone to cut into the chicken to check for doneness, because I was too afraid of burning it.

This left us with tender chicken meat, covered in crispy breading, which was tasty, moist, perfectly cooked, and paired with mashed potatoes perfectly. Also, something that my fast-food-deprived-mouth was excited to eat (read: reminded me of a lot of restaurant food I haven't been able to enjoy).

Very simple birthday dinner, but something that I enjoyed cooking and will definitely be making again.

Monday, 28 July 2014

My Life, Lately

I'm not going to apologize for not blogging lately, and I'm mostly just here to tell you I can't imagine I'll be blogging much for the next few weeks.

I already told you that we're moving to Saskatoon, but now all the little details are finalized. I start my job two weeks from today, and I'll be staying in a friend's guest room for four weeks, until we move into our new place on September 5th. My husband will be staying at home for those four weeks, and I'll be living out of a couple plastic totes.

I found out a week ago, and I have spent every single day since then packing, cleaning and sorting. With an hour or so of downtime to play The Sims. (The Sims 4 comes out in September, so I have to play lots of The Sims 3 now, right?)

So here's my life, lately:

Packing. So. Much. Packing. I'm trying to pack up as much of the house as I can now so that my husband doesn't have to do it all after I leave. I'm also doing it all alone, because he'll have to do everything else once I'm gone. It's kind of tricky to pack all the stuff that won't be needed in the next month and a half (or rather two months to play it safe - who knows when we'll finish unpacking). Lola (above) loves how all these cardboard boxes are sitting around.

The other tricky thing is packing my clothes. I've sorted through my wardrobe and put everything in one of four piles:

  1. Get rid of. I don't care if it's donate or garbage, but I'm trying to really purge my clothes.
  2. Pack into a cardboard box. If I don't think I'll wear it in the next two months, it's going in a labelled cardboard box, to be opened sometime in September.
  3. Keep out. I still have two weeks of work left here, so I have to make sure to keep some work clothes, some comfy clothes, and some regular clothes out.
  4. Plastic totes. If I'm not going to wear it in two weeks, but will wear it in two months, it goes into a plastic bin to go to Saskatoon with me.
As I'm sure you can imagine, category 3 & 4 got a little tricky later on, so I made it simpler. I decided to wear all of my favourite things during the last nine days of work at my current job. All the weirder stuff (super vintage, a little risque, a little difficult to pull off) needs to be worn before I start a new job and have to figure out a new "dress code". So I went through and pulled out twelve of my favourite/weirdest dresses or skirts. I then put together whole outfits, including tank tops, tights and sweaters, and put one full outfit on a hanger in the closet. When I had twelve of these hangers (nine work days, plus a little wiggle room to allot for mood and weather) I packed all of my other work clothes, including all of my dress pants. This means that for two weeks, I can't wear pants to work! No matter how lazy I feel. Yay!

So what you're looking at a above is a snapshot of my side of the closet, in the terrible lighting that is my house. I know it just looks like a normal closet, but right next to the green dress is a blue dress with a cream-coloured bolero. And the mint dress next to that has a tank top underneath. My closet is so impressive right now, and I feel so organized!

I'm done with all the clothes from my dresser and my closet. I still have some dirty laundry that I need to wash and sort, and I'll have to do laundry the day or so before I leave and pack all these lovely dresses that I have left out.

So... There's my life. I guess I'm finishing that binge of cleaning I started months ago. Although, you know, all of this would be a lot easier if I'd finished purging and cleaning back then. Ugh.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My 200th Post!

Hey guys! This is my 200th post!

When I started this blog, I thought I'd hit 200 in the first year, but I was being silly when I thought I could blog every day. Well, sort of silly. I did blog every day for a while, and it really helped me in the beginning. Eventually, I stopped needing the daily vent and I stopped having new gluten-free adventures every day.

I've been thinking for a couple of weeks of what to do for my post #200. It seems like kind of a big deal. Maybe I'd make a new recipe? Maybe I'd do a round-up?

Well, I have big news to share instead!

I am moving to Saskatoon! This small town girl is about to live in the big city!

I start a new job up there on August 11th, and my husband will move up when we have a place, which hopefully will be September 1st. Things might get a little weird in the interim, so bear with me.