Monday, 30 September 2013

Two Years

How do I get through an entire weekend without making food once? I honestly don't understand. I didn't cook a single dinner, or even a lunch. I actually don't think I ate the last two days, besides pb&j, coffee, and some "granola" bars.

I did do something this weekend, though! I got around to taking our second anniversary photos. Neither of us wanted to, but we both knew that if we didn't do it yesterday, it would never happen. And I would regret it forever if we missed a year.

I threw on a dress I'd just bought (and fallen totally in love with, by the way) and he threw on a dress shirt (I later thought he would have looked better in just a t-shirt, especially since he didn't tuck the shirt in, but oh well) and then we got our roommate to grab my old little digital camera and snap a couple pictures of us.

I think they turned out pretty great. Certainly not proffesional quality photoshoot, but great enough to frame one or two and keep them for years to come.

When I printed one at Wal-Mart, the man working the photo department said, "Keep that frame! You should use it every year. That's such a cool idea!" I've heard that over and over, when I tell people our (my) plans. My only regret is that I didn't make a chalkboard in time for our photos last year. I wanted one, but finding chalkboard paint, and then hunting down a frame took too long and I didn't have them in time. We did take a box of sidewalk chalk to a graffiti wall, and at one point we wrote "One Year" but those photos look weird, and you can barely see the chalk over the bright spray paint.

So anyways. Here are the best of our little photo shoot. If you aren't married yet, or have been married less than a year, I really suggest doing something like this. I think it'll look fantastic in several years.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Gluten Free Support Group

I stumbled across an ad for a gluten-free support group meeting the other day, and I thought, How on Earth did I not know about this? Well, it turns out it was the very first meeting. So I guess that was lucky. I toyed with the idea of going, decided not to, decided to, and eventually M said I would regret not going, but chances are that I wouldn't regret going. So I went.

It was last night, and the meeting only lasted an hour.

I expected the meeting to be full of pretensious, obnoxious, quinoa-eating, GF-fad people and people who didn't know what they were talking about. As it turned out, there was only one woman who didn't know what she was talking about, and nobody was there as a fad-eater.

I was, however, the youngest person. By about 20 or 30 years. I also was the newest celiac, with everyone else's diagnosis dates ranging from three years to twenty-two, and one woman whose husband was diagnosed in the 1960's. I didn't really learn anything, as this was more of a "gather, chat, share, and support each other" kind of meeting. Which was really nice.

I talked about my diagnosis, how sick I was, how sick I've been, how hard it is not to cheat, and how I really shouldn't eat dairy but I do. And I got nods, sympathetic smiles and "I've been there" looks. The other women talked about their struggles, their peripheral symptoms, their children, and husbands, and just plain struggles.

One woman was IBS, so she was free from gluten, soy, corn, potatoes, dairy, and a growing list of smaller things. A few women weren't diagnosed, and hadn't seen doctors (they got a few disapproving looks), they just found they felt better eating gluten-free. One of these women said her mother and grandmother struggled with chronic constipation, so she went GF to avoid that, and has never actually been all that sick.

One woman was, well, kind of ignorant. She talked about seeing a naturopath, having digestive issues, and being told not to eat gluten, dairy or soy. She talked about a few of her favourite recipes, one of which used oat bran. There was a definite look shared amongst the group. Oats are one of those iffy things that people disagree on. She caught that, and said she sometimes substitutes with wheat bran. That's when one of the older woman said that wouldn't be gluten-free then.

Another woman talked about how wheat causes cancer, and how nobody should eat gluten, because you'll get cancer. She knows because her dad died of cancer, her brother has cancer, her uncle died of cancer, she knows all these people who have cancer or died of cancer. Thing is, none of them had stomach cancer, or intestinal cancer. There was brain cancer, lung, skin, and breast.

I mean, you're free to believe what you want, and eat what you feel safe eating. But I don't think you should go around spouting crazy and make uninformed people afraid. Also, every single person in the room had a problem with wheat. She was kind of preaching to the choir.

For the most part, though, I really enjoyed it. It was nice to chat with women who understand what I went through, and what I go through every day. One of them was actually friends with my mom, and although I hadn't met her before, when I was first diagnosed, my mom passed along a form letter from her. It was a "Hi, welcome to gluten-free. It sucks. These products rock, you can buy them here, and here are a few basic recipes I rely on. This is how I make my flour. Feel free to email me." It took a week before I even read it, because I didn't want help. I didn't want to talk to people. I was angry, I felt alone, and I pushed away everyone who wanted to help me. I admitted to this woman that I had gotten her email, but had never made anything, and didn't even want to read it at the time. She smiled, nodded, and said, "I know. It's hard, you don't want anybody's help, and you're so angry." It was such a weight off my shoulders (one I didn't know was there) for someone to verify the way that I used to feel.

It really was nice to just sit in the company of half a dozen people who understood. I've had a few conversations with other celiacs (slash other gluten free people for various reasons) and sometimes I walk away shaking my head, and sometimes I feel a bit better about things. I won't be calling up these women and regularly hanging out with them, but I will definitely try to make it to the next meeting.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Ironic Foreshadowing

I was just looking through my wedding photos today. (To explain, I decided that we would take photos every year on or near our anniversary, and our anniversary was a week ago, but we haven't gotten to taking any photos. I really want to get on that, I just need some inspiration. As such, I was looking through our wedding photos.)

I live in the middle of Saskatchewan, so we had decided to do a farm photo shoot. It's really pretty, and they turned out stunning. Ironic, though, isn't it?

In one picture, I'm actually laying on wheat (*Okay, maybe it's not wheat, but it is dried farm grass). Oh my god. Just looking at that makes my skin shiver.

I obviously didn't know I was allergic then, if I even was (I know I had celiac disease, I don't think it started effecting me until some time after marriage).

But looking at them now, it just seems a little ironic.

And maybe a bit like foreshadowing.

And yes, I am shamelessly posting several gorgeous photos from my wedding over two years ago. I'll never stop loving looking at myself in such a pretty dress.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer

So, you know that I've been on a serious coffee kick lately, right? Like, three weeks ago I had never had a cup, and now I can't make it through morning without one.

Well, I'm also trying really hard to embrace fall this year. Normally I pretend it's summer until the day it snows, and then I count down the days to the next summer. This year, I'm trying to find things to love about every season.

Also, one of my favourite blogs, Pintester is having a Pintester movement, so I decided to make this for the purpose of submitting. I realize this is the very last day to submit, but I've been tired and busy.

So in honour of those three things, I made a dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo pumpkin pie coffee creamer. Aren't I fancy?

I found it here, but of course this wouldn't be a real Pintester post if I made it that exact way, so I substituted something. I couldn't find any pumpkin pie spice! I don't know why, when my grocery store is already selling Christmas lights, but I couldn't. So instead I threw in undetermined amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

So there's everything I used. That container of white stuff is coconut milk. I opened the can yesterday to try a few spoonfuls in my coffee. You can also tell I like No Name stuff. Hey, it's cheap.

So I threw everything in my blender, including the spices I didn't picture before.

And then I hit go. I didn't really expect it to be this colour, but hey, that's cool.

I threw it back in the container that had had the coconut milk, because I am very against dirty dishes.

And bam. It was super easy to whip together, and I feel good about all the ingredients. I tasted a spoonful of the stuff, and ohmygoditwasamazing! It tasted like thick, creamy, pumpkin pie. I could have eaten the whole container with a spoon. Honestly, I liked it better before I put it in my coffee. It did taste like pumpkin pie, and I didn't need to add sugar, but I just didn't like how my pumpkin pie stuff started tasting like coffee.

A normal coffee drinker would probably love it.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Good Days and Bad Days

I've said before that I have good days and bad days when it comes to not eating gluten. Some days, I'm A-okay with that, and will happily sit at Burger King or Dairy Queen and enjoy my ice cream, while my husband/sister/friend/mom enjoy a burger and fries. Sometimes, I just can't do it.

Well, the last month or two has been almost entirely good days. I've balanaced my hunger levels, so I know how much food I need to get through the day, and I don't even want to eat a greasy, fatty, cheap burger anymore. In fact, I don't even want fries. It's fantastic. It means I have been finding myself eating ice cream, or sipping an iced coffee and watching someone eat something solid more often that I would have thought. And I'm totally okay with it. It means I get to spend time with people I enjoy, while they do/eat what they want, and I have something yummy and indulgent. It may not be the healthiest habit, but it makes life feel a little more normal. (Also, I'm in my early twenties. The announcement "let's go to xxx fast food restaurant" after nine pm is a pretty normal thing with friends.)

I don't have a hard time looking at Pinterest food boards anymore, I'm constantly thinking of ways to adapt amazing recipes. I don't even have a hard time going to my mom's house and seeing dinner on the table (that I grew up eating at), food in the fridge (that I spent years raiding every hour), or watching my mom cook childhood favourites. I just shrug it off, and look for something that I can eat.

I find myself saying "I probably can't eat it, I won't risk it" more often than "I don't want to read the ingredients, I just want to eat it. I'm sure it's fine." I really am dealing well. I mean, sure, I'm not perfect. I whine, I complain, my proximity to food I can't eat increases my whining. But there's a difference between complaining about the hand you were dealt and trying to change it. I'm okay with the fact I can't eat the lasagna in my fridge (that our housemate made), but I'm going to complain that I want to.

Does that make sense?

Anyways, the whole point is that my "bad days" have decreased to the point that days are all just the same.

Except yesterday.

Yesterday morning, at work, somebody bought a dozen doughnuts. And since my desk is front and center, they set them on the ledge of my work space so that everyone could grab one. PS, the ledge is about twenty feet long. This wasn't a proximity I was concerned about for allergy reasons. Yes, I could have moved them, or made a stink, because that could harm me, but they were a good ten feet away. I just knew every time someone discovered there were doughnuts, and I watched everyone pick one out, and they discussed what kinds were left. That's not easy for anyone to deal with.

Our food supply is dwindling low, because we haven't gone grocery shopping, so lunch was a little hard. I found something to eat, but I kept thinking about Subway and Quiznos and Pita Pit.

Then, after work, I had one hour to eat, change and go to the other job. We had some defrosted chicken in the fridge, and I had been planning to fry it up with a little BBQ sauce all day, so as soon as I got home, I started on that.

And then I broke down in tears. All I wanted for dinner was ramen noodles.

I don't even like ramen noodles all that much. I mean, I survived on them for a year or two, but I don't really like them. And yet, suddenly, they were all I wanted to eat, and the fact that I could never eat them ever again really upset me, to the point that I stood in my kitchen, sobbing.

I cried for most of the time I spent at home, and I was super grumpy by the time I got to work.

Honestly, I don't really know what happened. I mean, yes, I had a bad day, food wise, but this isn't the first time those kinds of things have happened, and I've dealt with them a lot better. I just hit my limit and fell apart.

Thankfully, I only cried at home, not at either job, which I guess makes this all a lot better. I can't imagine how embarrassed I would be right now if any of my coworkers caught me crying over ramen noodles.

I just wanted to let you know that I am dealing a lot better with everything, but I guess everyone has a bad day once in awhile.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Spoon Theory

Have you heard of the spoon theory?

Essentially, two girls were in a diner, and one was trying to explain how she felt, what it was like living with a chronic disease or chronic fatigue. She ran around the diner and grabbed all the spoons and gave them to her friend. She then talked her through a normal day, and for every activity that required energy, she took a spoon away.

Wake up, and take a shower. There goes a spoon.

Make breakfast, so there's a meal in your stomach to cushion the many pills you take, that's a spoon.

Throughout the day, she slowly lost most of her spoons, until they got to the end of the day, when she had one spoon left. Make dinner, or do laundry? You can't do it all, you only have one more spoon.

I stumbled across this theory a week or two ago, and thought it was really interesting. What I didn't like was the culture of "spoonies". People who are living life like this, who feel like life takes something tangible every time they do something, connect and call themselves spoonies. To be honest, I mostly didn't like the culture because a woman online snapped at me, and was very rude, while identifying herself as "another heavily-medicated celiac spoonie" as if that was some excuse for her terrible attitude. I looked into the culture a little more, and anyone who identified themselves as a spoonie on their public profile bothered me. They were either rude, self-centered, or hiding behind this label as an excuse.

As I slowly processed it all and examined my life, I realized I was one. I used the word "go-juice". I'll frequently tell M, "I'm running out of go-juice". He's heard that all the time. He also watches me lay on the couch and beg him to do something as basic as grab me a glass of water. Sometimes he calls me lazy, sometimes he understands that I'm just sapped. What he doesn't understand is later, when I get up and have enough energy to do something else. It's not that I'm completely worn out, or exhausted. I'm weighing the pros and cons of whatever task I'm facing against how much energy it's going to take. I am aware that my energy is limited, and it's quite tangible to me. Even when I wake up in the morning, I know I only have so much energy to get through my day. Sometimes I have more, sometimes I have less. There are certain things I can do to get more, and certain things that I usually skip over to keep as much energy as possible.

As I came to the realization that I am, in fact, a spoonie, I started using the word "spoon". I've been telling M things like, "But that'll cost me two spoons" "I don't have a spoon for that" "That's worth the spoon".

I'm not going to identify myself as a spoonie. I'm not going to hide behind that word and use it as an excuse for everything negative that I do. I am, however, going to remind the close people in my life that my energy is a tangible, real thing, that slowly goes away, whether or not I like it. I am going to use the spoon theory for exactly the same reason the first girl came up with it. To explain to all those normal people out there how I face every day, and why I make the decisions that I do. It's not that I'm lazy, or even sleep-deprived. It's just that I'm out of spoons.

I wish I didn't have to use the word "spoon". I keep looking for something else, just so I don't have to identify with all those jerks, but I haven't found something quite so understandable and tangible. I like go-juice, but juice is liquid, viscous, and refillable. I think I'll stick with "spoon" for now. A lot of people have heard the spoon theory, and will understand, so until I find something that rocks my socks, I'll keep going through spoons.

There's this moment that happens almost every day, sometimes more than once a day. When I am still, laying on the couch, sitting in the car, sitting in my chair at work, and the time comes that I have to get up. I stay still for a moment longer, and mentally go over my bone-weary body, feeling all the spots that are just wiped. I feel the dull ache in my back, I'm hyper-aware of my stiff joints, and then I think about whatever it is I'm about to do or want to do. Sometimes I sit still a moment longer, and that's when I know I'm a spoonie. When I take that moment to go, "Is it really worth it?" Whether "it" be a glass of water, a grocery shopping trip, or even just the act of getting up. It drives my husband nuts. We'll pull up in the car to wherever it is we're going, and he'll jump out, and then realize I'm still in the car. He'll walk around to my side, and I'll just be sitting there, staring at my purse in the back seat. I take a deep breath, reach back, grab my purse, and go. He used to get frustrated, but now that I've explained how I'm feeling and dealing, he understands. He'll often open my door or grab my purse for me. The moment to breath gets longer and longer as the day goes on. Early in the morning, it's a few seconds, but late at night, sometimes I'll tell him to just go in without me, because whatever it is just isn't worth what it's going to take from me. That's all just in the car, but this also happens at work, when I realize I need to grab a paper from the printer, take a message to somebody, or even just pour myself a cup of coffee. I'll put it off, I'll sit still, I'll take a moment to breath. And it's the worst on the couch. Once I lay down, there's almost no getting up. I can rationalize myself out of anything if I'm laying on the couch.

Thing is though, I've been doing this for at least year and a half. When I worked my old super-boring job, I missed a lot of days doing this. I'd be sitting/laying somewhere, and think about going to work, and ultimately decide the energy it would take wasn't worth it. I wasn't necessary for the workplace to function, and if it was going to take just a bit too much from me, I wouldn't go. I would stay put. I'd talk myself into going often enough that I kept my job. My boss understood, and when I was diagnosed, he understood twice as much. I couldn't have explained then how I felt about my energy levels, but he understood anyways. Now that I am necessary for the workplace to function, I haven't talked myself into not going, not even once, to either job. But I talk myself out of other necessary things, just to sacrifice that bit of energy for work.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Our Anniversary

Today is my second anniversary. Two years ago today, I made the biggest promise I've ever made. I promised to love, to cherish, to obey, and to honour a man. That's not always easy, and the last two years have had their ups and their downs, but I can honestly say I have never loved him as much as I do now.

I can hardly believe we've been married for two whole years. Time just flies by with him. The first year was quite an adventure, as we moved twice, and adopted two fur-babies. The second year was a little more settled, we're still living in the same house, and we only adopted one more fur-baby, but we did spend two months apart, and we spent half of the year dealing with Celiac disease. The last two years have felt non-stop, but I love being busy. We've figured a lot of things out, and it's starting to feel like life will be just like this for the rest of forever. I know more things are certainly going to change, but it'll always just be me and him, at the core.

Since our anniversary fell on a Monday, M insisted we both take the day off work. I reluctantly agreed, and it's a good thing I did. I ended up getting scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday at the store, so I wouldn't have had a day off normally. Thankfully, we took this one day to just be together, all day. It was splendid, and I had the best time.

We spent the morning getting pampered. Well, I got pampered. I had a massage, a facial, and a pedicure. M had a massage. He then spent an hour sitting around the spa, waiting for me to be done, which he was totally okay with, but I felt a little bad. Ah, well.

Afterwards, we went out for lunch. We just decided to go to Boston Pizza, and both had meals we've had before. After lunch, we opened the presents we got each other, and then did some running around. I know it's totally lame to do errands on our anniversary, but we both work office hours, so we never get a chance to do errands.

We planned to go to Rock Creek for dinner, because it recently opened here, and neither of us have been, but I had an alfredo dish for lunch (Boston Pizza got GF alfredo!!), and I didn't feel so good. I keep forgetting that I'm lactose-intolerant too. I like to pretend I'm not.

We spent most of the rest of the night laying around at home, me nursing my tummy, and then we went to the midnight launch of Grand Theft Auto 5. I know, I know. I can't believe we went, either.

I went because I wanted Sims. It's the only video game that I play a lot, and really enjoy, and I went to play it yesterday, but I lost the most recent disk, and the lovely thing about PC Sims is that you only need the most recent expansion pack to play. So if we just go out and buy a newer expansion pack, I can keep playing. The video game store was closed by the time I decided to do this, so we waited until 10pm, when they opened for the GTA5 launch, so I could buy Sims. M's one condition to this hair-brained scheme was that he was allowed to buy GTA. I'm kind of against the game series in general, but he convinced me he's a responsible adult, who can make his own decisions, and isn't going to drive around killing hookers in real life. So I caved, and we each bought a lame video game.

Fantastic anniversary, huh? I wish I wasn't sick so much, we could have had a lot more fun. Ah well, he still loves me, and I still love him.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Melrose Place in Moose Jaw

A new restaurant opened up here. I'm not quite sure when exactly they opened, because they had an "Opening Soon" sign up for like two years. Last night, my in-laws wanted to take M and I out for a late birthday dinner for M and his step-dad (their birthdays were in August), and for a pre-anniversary dinner (mine and M's anniversary is Monday). They suggested Melrose Place, and I thought, "What the heck. Let's walk into another restaurant totally blind. I didn't get sick from the first one." I want to try new things, I don't want to be stuck going to the same two restaurants forever.

There used to be two Melrose Places in Regina, but one closed down, and now one opened here. My in-laws had been to the currently-open one there, but none of us had been to the one here.

The atmosphere is great. The restaurant is huge, and very nice. It's very modern, without being ultra-modern. It has an expensive feel, without making me want to backpeddle out the second I walk in.

The menu looked good, with a very Greek influence, offering things like spanakopita and souvlaki. I really had no idea where to even start, and I instantly had a bunch of questions. So when the waitress came with drinks, I told her I had a gluten allergy. She had a vague deer-in-the-headlights look that let me know they don't have GF-friendly menu. She offered to bring the chef out, so that was good, I guess.

The head chef came out, and, well... I was a little shocked. He managed to swear three times while he was standing there, and he didn't seem to have a high knowledge base of gluten. He told me that no BBQ sauce has gluten in it, and then corrected to say that his [stuff] doesn't. He basically did one of those "You could eat just about anything on the menu, then. Except bread." I hate those. Now I'm stuck staring at the menu, breaking things down, and sending the waitress back with a million questions.

Which is exactly what I did. The first one was about the potato skins, an appetizer that is baked with bacon, cheese and such. She came back to say, "You definitely couldn't have the potato skins. Potatoes are a starch." Oh boy. This chef really had no clue, huh? Was he going to say no rice, too? She also informed they are deep-fried, so that was still a no.

I ended up getting some lamb souvlaki, served on a bed of rice, with a side of veggies and a baked potato. Because I wanted my potato; take that, chef. It was delicious. Well cooked, the right temperature, flavourful, and presented well.

No one had any complaints, and nothing had to be sent back (not to say M and his parents are picky, they're just... selective. And, well, you know me).

On the way home, my mother-in-law asked everyone for a rating out of ten, and we all agreed on six. It was good food, good menu, good atmosphere. We had to actually ask to get a water refill, and although the waitress pretty much ignored us, we could see four or five waitresses just standing around. Oh, and the head chef had no clue what etiquette meant, or what gluten was.

I would recommend it to a friend, but I would recommend they don't get their hopes all up.

Melrose Place on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Kergano's in Moose Jaw

There's this restaurant here, that I have heard mixed reviews about. It's kind of a hipster place, and I've heard it's expensive. M went there once, before we were even married, and he said the servings were huge, but the prices were high. He had this poor opinion of it, and every time I brought it up he shot it down. I essentially gave up, even though I don't think you should ixnay a restaurant because of one experience (unless that experience was baaaaaddd).

Today, we were wandering around downtown, looking for something to eat before our bank appointment. I suggested Kergano's, he shot it down, I got frustrated. I didn't think his reasons for not wanting to go were valid enough. He caved, and we went. Although neither of us were all too happy about it.

I had literally no idea what I could possibly eat; because it's a local place, I didn't bother to Google it.

The inside was nice. It is a small restaurant, but decorated well, and has a fresh kind of feel to it. The decor is very shabby chic. We were the only customers in there, so it was nice and quiet.

The menu was short, although it looked delicious, there wasn't a whole array of options. And basically every single option was a burger or sandwich.

I informed the waitress (after looking over the menu) that I have a gluten allergy, and she said they have a gluten free bun! I got really excited. Then I asked her to go through all of the menu options, because the font was really hard to read, and I needed to know specifics.

One burger had onions rings on it, one was breaded and deep-fried (although she informed me they could "bread" it with coconut and deep-fry it - no thanks), one had a gravy on it... Almost every single one was unsafe. Which means that the restuarant is for gluten-free people who don't care about cross-contamination, or about small amounts of gluten. I decided on their regular burger, because she said the patty was made in-house, but first asked if it had bread crumbs or anything in it. She said, and I quote, "No, I can't imagine they would put bread crumbs in a burger." She asked the chef, and came back. It did.

So I got a veggie burger. Which I was still totally excited about. I was still going to eat a burger with a bun in a restaurant. I had a side of spinach salad, figuring it was the safest bet, and it was delicious. When our plates came, M asked me if I was sure the bun was GF. I picked up the top piece and squeezed it a little. Hard, dry, and unpleasant. Yep, it's GF. Okay, it wasn't like a stale bun, but you know as well as I do that you can squeeze a bun and tell the difference. Kind of depressing, huh?

My veggie patty fell apart every time I took a bit, but I didn't mind at all. You know why? That means there wasn't a sufficient binder in there. And I am A-okay with that.

So... Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes. The food was pricey, but I've seen way worse. Will we go back? More than likely. M seemed to change his mind a little, realizing it wasn't all bad, and they do have a GF bun. Will we frequent it? Hell no. They don't know the first thing about a gluten allergy, and I don't want to have to walk the waitress through each ingredient again. Having a GF bun is great. Having a burger with bread crumbs in it, to go on a GF bun? No thank you.

Overall, I'd give them probably a seven out of ten. M might give an eight, from a non-GF viewpoint, but either way, I would suggest checking them out.

Kergano's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Slow cooker lasagna

Working 11 hours in a day, between two jobs doesn't leave much time for eating. I usually have one hour between getting off work and having to be at work. Thanks to two very different dress codes, I have to change in that time too. Some days, I just down a can of chicken and rice soup, some days I heat up some leftovers, and some days I actually have it together enough to make an actual meal. By that, I mean my husband who gets home fifteen minutes before me sometimes starts dinner, unless I put something in the slowcooker. The problem with slow cooker meals is that I usually have to put it in at lunch time. If I have it together, I can prepare it the night before, toss it in at lunch, and eat it at dinner. Otherwise, I have to prepare it at lunch hour, which leaves me less time to eat another meal.

Yesterday was one of those days. I prepared it at lunch, and ate it at dinner. There were three reasons I selected this recipe.

  1. I miss lasagna. Like, a lot.
  2. I bought gluten free lasagna noodles awhile back, but I haven't had the time to prepare a lasagna (let's be honest, they are a little intensive. 
  3. My roommate recently made a lasagna, and has been slowly eating it over the last week. Staring at it every time I open the fridge made me desperate enough to try anything.
I wasn't really sure about this recipe. The blog I found it on said she thought it would dry and crunchy, but it wasn't. I thought the same, but even worse, because my noodles would be gluten free. But they weren't! Actually, they were a little bit soggy. The recipe says to cook on low for three hours, but I had to cook it for four, because my time is a little limited. I would still highly suggest it to anyone, GF, or not.

I found it here, and I made some tweaking. First of all, she didn't mention any beef, although her picture shows some. I wanted beef, so I browned some, and layered it in there as well. Second, M hates parmesan, so I took that out and added a little more mozza instead. This recipe is pretty relaxed, and you can do whatever tweaking you like.

Here's what I used

1 box lasagna noodles - uncooked
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 - 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg
1/2 - 1 pound ground beef
1 jar spaghetti sauce

Here's what I did:

Brown the ground beef. Mix the cheeses and egg together in a bowl. Layer.

Start with sauce on the bottom, then dry noodles. I had to break mine to get them to fit in the pot, and then I put the broken pieces around the edges. Layer some cheese, beef, sauce, noodles, until you run out. Finish off with some sauce.

You can add cheese for the last half hour, which I didn't for two reasons. First of all, I wasn't home half an hour before I ate this. And second, I wanted parmesan, M didn't, so I put parmesan on my plate after I served it.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Robynne and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

You ever have those days that by 9am you just want the day to end? Today was one of those days.

It started self-inflicted. I stayed up until midnight watching How I Met Your Mother. I knew it was a bad idea, and I knew I would pay for it, but I didn't care... then.

I usually wake up at 7, force myself out of bed by 7:15, get dressed and done up by 7:30, and then eat and leave for work at 7:45. Today, I woke up at 7:20, got out of bed at 7:30, got dressed by 7:40, and that left five minutes to eat breakfast. Whoops.

I poured some cereal, like I eat every single morning. The milk says it expires today, but it's usually good for a few days, so I sniffed it. I have this problem where expired milk smells normal to me. When I worked at a grocery store, someone brought in gone-bad milk. I smelled it, and it smelled fine. I got my coworker to take a whiff, and he spent five minutes gagging. So... I have a problem. I asked M to smell the milk this morning, but he has a cold coming on, so he said it's fine too. I poured it, and it looked a little funny, but I told myself that was all in my head.

I took a big bite, and instantly spit it out. I then spent five minutes over the sink, rinsing out my mouth and dry heaving. So... I guess the milk went bad. Awesome. I then went to throw out the contents of my cereal bowl, and threw out the spoon too. And I couldn't find it, so I just sent the bag out with M with a spoon in it. Oh well.

By then, it was time to leave for work, so I just grabbed an applesauce and left. Got to work just fine, and early enough. Clocked in, put my purse away, and realized I was wearing sandals. Like, bright blue plastic flip flops. I wear dress pants and dress shirts to work everyday, with black flats, not flip flops.

Thankfully, I keep a back-up pair of ballerina shoes in my purse. They're comfortable, and small, so they store in my purse nicely. I've kept them there for months, and used them every now and then. So then I was wearing leather dance shoes at work, but no one noticed.

Over the next ten minutes, I proceeded to log in with the wrong password, answer the phone wrong, and spill water on my pants. The day really did not get much better from there.

Lesson learned? I need sleep more than How I Met Your Mother.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A Summary of my Summer

Hey, remember how I didn't blog for a month and a half? I didn't post once in July, and I missed most of June and August. Well, I said I didn't really do anything, and I didn't make anything, but that's not entirely true. Well, I didn't really make anything. But I did a lot of things. There was a lot going on in my life, though, and I just couldn't bring myself to blog about stuff. I was better, stomach-wise, but worse time-wise. One of the main problems is that I left my one-year-term-job. I had a routine, and it became simple to fit blogging into that routine. I also had a little reminder at work to jot down what I'd done, or what I was planning, and could blog about it later. When I stopped having an office, and a desk, and even a computer I logged onto every day, blogging slipped too. I did post several times after the job, but it all started slipping. I couldn't find a routine, I didn't have a pattern, and then when I did, it was a pattern of constant work. Starting the new reception job puts me at a computer, and better, gives me several hours a day where there is nothing for me to do but read blogs. So eventually, I get around to writing my own blog. It's been good.

Well, I'm sure you're wondering about my summer, which I neglected to tell you anything about.

The first thing that happened was a roadtrip to Edmonton on June 26. Banana and I bought tickets to Taylor Swift, a mere 8-hour drive from here. We spent two nights in a hostel, a half day at the West Ed Mall, a night enjoying the best concert I have ever been to, a dinner at the most hipster restaurant I've ever been to, and the day back enjoying cliche roadtrip things. We went to Ikea, we took a picture with the world's largest Ukranian Easter egg, and we visited a Ukranian heritage village. It was a grand adventure. Of course, I had all sorts of gluten-related anxiety, but everything worked out so well. I also had a lot of "firsts" (prairie girl over here - Ikea is exciting!), but it'd be hard to blog about that now.

Oh, and of course, my birthday was on June 22. I turned 21. Whoo. Now I can drink gluten free alcohol anywhere in the world. Big whoop-de-ding. I had a little bonfire, and had hot dogs and marshmallows. People kept complaining there weren't graham crackers. I wasn't gonna buy them if I couldn't eat them. I was really concerned about my first GF birthday, in terms of cake, but my lovely mother took care of that. She bought a Betty Crocker mix, and made me an amazing pinata cake. The mix was actually spectacular, and tasted totally normal. Everyone kept saying they couldn't tell it was GF. I would highly recommend it.

Oh, and my in-laws took hubby and I out for a birthday dinner, and the lovely waitress at Boston Pizza overheard that it was my birthday, so this happened at the end of the meal. I looooove Boston Pizza birthdays, with the singing and the clapping, and the attention. Halfway through the song, something clicked in my brain and I realized that they had just brought me a cupcake. Probably the most depressing birthday moment I've ever had. When the song ended, Hubby pointed it out, and I started laughing. I took a picture, and then passed the cupcake around and everyone else had some. It was really just a funny moment.

The first week of July, I started my favourite job ever. It's a summer program that runs every year for six weeks, and this was my third year working at it. Essentially it's a drop-in, free, city-funded kid's program. We ran games, crafts, and activities for kids aged 6-12 at a park. My park had a pool, but not every one does. They all have playgrounds and shacks, though. Once a week, we take the kids on a field trip. I wanted to blog about this job every day. We did so many amazing things, had so many adventures, and had so many crazy things happen. But to protect the kids' privacy, I hesitated. Also, this is a gluten-free blog, nobody comes here looking for cool egg carton crafts, or ideas for field trips.

Two weeks into that job, on July 13, I got a tattoo! So that's fun. I've been thinking about getting a tattoo ever since my husband got one done, in February, 2012. He had a celtic rope tattooed on his left ring finger, as a wedding ring. I thought about what I could get for him, and decided to get an M on my right thigh. I wanted it to be easily hidden, but I also wanted to show it off. If I wear short shorts, or a swim suit, you can see it, but that's about it. It's just black, and has filigree all around it. It's probably about two inches by two inches, and it took about forty minutes to get done. PS, that hurt like hell. I almost threw up. I don't handle pain well. But I totally want another one! Someday.

Fresh Ink
Healed Tattoo

We also went to the wedding of two friends of ours. I love weddings. They remind me of my own, and the pure, unadulterated love the newlyweds have for each other reminds me of when I felt that way about my own husband. Not that I don't still feel that way, but let's be honest. Everything slows down eventually. I love the emotion of weddings. The happiness, the joy, the excitement. I also love helping. Most of the recent weddings we've been to, we end up being wedding monkeys, and that is where we are happiest. Both my husband and I rely on being needed, and love helping whenever asked. I'm more like that than he is, in truth.

Crappy cellphone pic of us. And yes, I let him grow that stache.

I got over a couple of things, over the summer. I finally had some alcohol. Not like I was dying without it. I just finally got frustrated enough to start googling, and figure out what I can drink. Now I'm that obnoxious person at bars, who requests mojitos made with bacardi. Oh well. I still don't drink a lot, so it doesn't make a difference to my life.

I also ordered my first real burger, no bun. I got it at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, because they don't make any crap, so it's a lot safer than other places. Also, they were my all-time favourite burgers before. I ordered a cheese burger, with ketchup and mustard, hoping to make it a little less pathetic. It didn't help.

Cheese burger, no bun.
And I discovered my new favourite treat. A dipped cone, in a cup. I know it's not truly safe, because they could get bits of cone in the dip chocolate when they dip other cones, but it's fantastic for the every once in awhile treat.

And I think that's about it for my summer. I'm so sorry for my absence, but I hope this all makes up for it!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

My Spontaneous Roadtrip

My summer has been non-stop. I got a six-week job, working 32 hours a week, and balanced my part-time retail job, working usually 12 hours a week, sometimes 20, occasionally a little more. I did it because one job was temporary, so I just had to power through, and then could go back to having days off. Buuuut.... I got another job, starting the Monday after the first one ended, and this one is 40 hours a week. 8-5, Monday-Friday is great, unless I'm also working up to three evenings, and every Saturday.

It's been two weeks at the new job, and I love it. I also love my other job, and I don't want to quit either one. I actually enjoy both, but I am beginning to burn out. My part-time job promised to cut it back to hopefully one evening a week, and Saturdays, but that stills only leaves me with one day off.

But, hey, guess what! It was just labour day weekend! And my full-time job closed their doors for a whole day on Monday. The retail job asked if I wanted some holiday hours, but I didn't. I wanted two whole days off, in a row, for the first time in recent memory.

You want to know what I did? I'm sure you do, since you're still reading. I took a roadtrip to Saskatoon. It's only a two and a half hour drive, and I have a bunch of friends living up there now, so right after work on Saturday, I packed an overnight bag, hopped in the car and left. My roommate, Ann, came with me. Despite working a normal amount of hours, she'd been tired, worn out, and wishing for a getaway for awhile too. Hubby didn't come with me, because the only people he cared about (the couple I stayed with) were going to busy the whole weekend. I made the decision to go on Friday night, Ann made the decision about half an hour before we left. It was the most spontaneous roadtrip I have ever taken.

We drove up on Saturday night, arrived at the apartment, played a board game, set up an air mattress (for me, Ann got the bed - it's a long story) and then went to bed. The couple we were staying with had to leave early in the morning, so by the time I got up, they were gone. We had seen a Target on the way to their place, so Ann and I went to Target. Call us Canadian, but neither of us have ever been to a Target before. We bought bagels (for her) and gluten-free cereal and milk (for me) and then had breakfast at the apartment.

I had lunch plans, so I took off in the afternoon. One of my solitary goals for the weekend was to hit up EE Burritos, which is a Latin American restaurant, and features a little grocery store that sells authentic Mexican everything, and is rumoured to sell crazy cheap corn tortillas. I tried to swing by on my way, but they are closed Sundays and holidays. Naturally. Why can't I catch a break?

I went for lunch anyways, met my friend at her new suite, and then walked a block down to a Mexican-Caribbean resort grill. I had the most amazing guacamole I have ever had in my life, and some really delicious enchiladas. Las Palapas features made-in-house corn tortillas, and I was assured against any cross-contamination.

The whole place feels like you're in a Mexican Resort

After lunch, my friend needed sleep, because she was coming off of a 12-hour night shift, so I was left to my own devices for a little while. I spent awhile driving around near the river, without anywhere to be, and with my GPS just turned off. It was bliss. I stumbled into a Tim Hortons, got a coffee, and sipped it, observing my surroundings, and discovering I was right in the middle of sketchville. Like, that might have been a hooker, and maybe I should sit facing my car, with my purse on my lap, and oh hey, that women is totally an addict, and not to coffee.

So that was my adventure! I later managed to get right in the middle of hipsterville. You know, the trendy street, that has all the fairtrade, organic, gluten free places. I don't have a problem with that! I might make fun of it, and definitely make fun of some of the people, but I love fair trade, organic, gluten free things! I admire vegan things, I check out local things. I love Broadway Ave, for all my poking fun. However, I don't love it at 5:30 on a Sunday, the day before a holiday. Everything was closed, and would be closed the next day, except! A little Mexican grocery store! What if I could find my corn tortillas? They were closed Sundays, but they didn't have a sign about the holiday, so I crossed my fingers and went the following day. Closed. As in, locked, without a single sign or any indication. Sadface.

Anyways, back to Sunday. Ann had the key to the apartment, but she had plans with her cousins, and spent the day out. So I didn't have plans, and couldn't go back to the apartment, which is why I ended up in these places. Eventually, my friend texted me. We had made vague plans for Sunday afternoon, but she hadn't texted me, so I was just waiting. She finally did, and then I went to her place. She also works night shifts, so I'm not giving her heck for not texting me. I completely understand the importance of sleep. Both her and her boyfriend were super hungry, so they found a nearby Asian place, and he called, asked about gluten free options (the answer was about 60% of their menu) and we went. I thought it was sweet of him to call ahead like that. I'm pretty sure he was just that hungry.

The place was called The Asain Bowl, and it was really a hole-in-the-wall Asian place, but it was legit Asian. I think they do Vietnamese, Thai and Korean food, but it was the real stuff, not the American versions of it. The waitress was surprisingly helpful, knew what gluten-free was, and checked with the chef before putting in my order. I had a Pad Thai, which is probably my favourite Asian meal.

My friend dropped off her boyfriend, because he needed to do something, and then the two of us drove around, chatted and caught up. We haven't seen each other in a really long time, but I love spending time with her, because we're a lot alike in a lot of unexpected ways.

Eventually, she needed to nap to work again that night, so I texted Ann, and headed back to the apartment. We sat around chatting until going to bed, and the couple we were staying with got home pretty late.

My morning plan was to get up at ten, get ready, get gas, meet Banana at eleven, check out that Mexican grocery store, and then go for lunch at her favourite restaurant.

I got up at ten, started getting ready, and was nearly ready when the couple was up and about. So I talked to them for a little while, and then realized it was quarter after eleven. So I finished getting ready, and went to get gas. Banana gave me the (ever-loving) gears for being late, as usual, but I didn't even care. The whole weekend was about not stressing out. We went to Broadway Ave, and discovered that the little grocery store was closed, depressingly, and that everything good on Broadway was closed too. We went to La Bamba, her favourite place, and it was closed. We also went to Leydas (an entirely gluten and nut free restaurant) and it was closed. So was The Griffin Takeaway, which apparently has gluten free sandwiches and stuff. Essentially everything local and small was closed for the holiday.

During our driving and hunting, we passed a fresh fruit stall, and I bought some Taber corn, three kinds of fresh fruit, and some potatoes. I love stalls like that.

The biggest onions I've ever seen

We eventually found a place that was open and had gluten free selections. The Spadina Freehouse, which is quite the opposite of free. I don't understand the name, but it is a fancy restaurant. We sat on the patio, and looked up at the Delta Bessborough, easily the fanciest and most prestigious hotel in Saskatchewan. I had a fancy schmancy cranberry apple salad, and we shared some sweet potato fries. Something went wrong though, because we got our food before our appetizer, so then they took the fries off the bill. I know a restaurant like that has an image to uphold or whatever, but I was a little surprised.

Our view, the Delta Bessborough

After that, we went to the Midtown, mostly because I *needed* to shop at Lush. I really needed to, okay? It's somewhere I go every time I'm in Saskatoon, and usually I walk in with a low budget, only buy one or two things, and then spend the next month thinking about the products I should have bought. This time, I just found the things I had been thinking about since last time, and bought them. I spent a little more than I would have liked, but I don't regret a single purchase. This is the second I've been since diagnosis-day, and their appeal to me has raised a lot because of that. Everything is gluten-free, except three oatmeal products (a soap, a body bar, and a face mask - all of which I've heard wonderful things about) and a beer-based shampoo. I can totally trust everything else. (*Disclaimer: I'm sure there are other products, either in the past, the future, or in bigger stores, but they do clearly list all of the ingredients on every bottle, and they minimize the amount of crap in everything, so it's all just a little more trustworthy than the average shampoo bottle.)

We also shopped for some clothes, and I bought one dress shirt. I tried on a bunch, but I just wasn't really in a clothes-buying mood. Banana bought a bunch of stuff, but she starts university right away, so she really did need those boots, and those coloured jeans, and that new purse. As much as I tease her, I actually totally get it. I bought a whole bunch of new clothes before starting my new job. It's just necessary.

I would've bought the boots if I didn't have giant feet

I only made two other purchases. One, I'm really excited about, and the other was probably the most frustrating thing of my weekend. My husband decided, about a week ago, that he wanted a gyroscope. At first, he just sent me a link to one. Then, he said Wal-Mart didn't have it. And then he spent Saturday, while I was at work, going to every store that might possibly carry it, and getting more and more disappointed. When I planned my spontaneous roadtrip, his one and only condition was that I try to find one. On Sunday, during my driving around and killing time, I passed Toys 'R' Us, and I thought if anybody has it, it will be them. So I willingly entered parent-hell. That store is massive, and overwhelming, and I was so thankful that A) I do not have children, B) I did not have any children with me and C) I was not pressured to buy the perfect gift for anyone. I cannot imagine trying to be in that store if anything of those things were different. I managed to escape with only spending $2! (I found baby socks for $1/pair, and had to buy one boy, one girl pair! Hubby wasn't quite as impressed as I was.) Oh, right! So, they didn't have gyroscopes. They were listed on their website, but the manager of that department said they haven't had them in a few years.

When Banana and I were at the mall and went into Go! Toys and Games. I honestly just walked in, walked up to a sales lady, and asked if she had gyroscopes. She squinted, and tilted her head for a second, and I was just waiting for the no, and then she walked across the store, picked up a box, and said, "This?" I bought it and walked out. I was excited that I'd finally found it, but mostly just frustrated at how elusive this one toy was, and how desperately my husband wanted it. I guess I left out how many times he texted me over the weekend asking if I'd checked certain stores, and reminding me to look for one. I was just fed up. But I found it, I bought it, and I was done. This might be why we don't have children yet.

The last purchase I made was red lipstick. I've been looking at red lipsticks for awhile, I've bought a couple really cheap ones, and I hated them all. I decided I just couldn't pull of red lipstick, and moved on. But it's such a trend right now, and I so love the colour red, that I couldn't let it go. I read a blog post last week about finding the right red lipstick, and the blogger said to just go to Sephora, and pay $25 for one. You could buy $5 ones, but you'll probably end up buying five or more before you find the right one. Just give in, and ask the professionals to find you one. So when I saw a Sephora at the mall, I dragged Banana in. "Dragged" is a loose term. She spent more than I did.

I started looking at the lipsticks, looking for the cheapest brand (I'm sorry, I can't squelch the frugal deal-finder inside), and several brands were $23, so I settled for that. Then I found a sales lady, and told her my diemna. That being that I'm insecure, unsure about my skin tone, I have red hair, but I really want a red lipstick. She showed me several on the back of her hand, I pointed at my favourite, and she had me try it on. I liked it, but I was afraid I looked like I was playing dress-up. After much fretting, she got a make-up lady, who reassured me it did look good, and talked about different tones of lipsticks. She showed me a few more in a similar tone, and I liked one or two, but before I tried one on, I had to show Banana the one on my face. She's really good at going, "Oh, Robynne, don't buy that." She went, "Wow! It's shocking, but in a very good way. Definitely buy it." So I didn't even try any more on. I bought the first one, and spent the rest of the day wearing red lipstick... And a florescent pink dress. I'm not sure I would have paired those two on purpose.

So that is officially the most expensive single piece of makeup I've ever bought, but I think it's totally worth it.

Oh, because this is a gluten-free blog, I should mention I did consider buying gluten-free makeup. Sephora does carry a few lines, and the lipsticks run $40+... So I figured just plain lipstick is an okay start.

And that was my shopping day.

It was almost dinner time at this point, so I went back to the apartment, where the wonderful couple we stayed with made dinner for Ann and I. I am jealous of my friend's creative kitchen skills, and access to fresh produce. She recently had several people say "This grew in our garden - here, take it." And as such, made zucchini and fresh tomatoes. We also had chicken, and some of the corn I picked up at the stall. She did everything on the barbeque, so it really was the perfect end of summer dinner.

She spiced the chicken breasts with a variety of italian spices, and italian flavoured olive oil, and tossed them on the BBQ. Next were the zucchini slices, which were marinaded for about fifteen minutes and then grilled. The corn she soaked in water for about half an hour, and then peeled enough to remove the silk, left the husk on, and tossed them on the BBQ. And finally, she drizzled the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with feta cheese. Isn't it just a lovely meal? Everything was splendid and delicious, and it was probably my favourite meal of the weekend!

Shortly after dinner, we packed up, said our goodbyes and hit the long road home. We got home a little on the late side, but I would have been fine if I'd gone straight to bed. But, you know, when you haven't seen your husband for two days, you don't go straight to bed. We sat up, talking all about our weekends, and then I just plain did not want to wake up this morning. I had plans to do up my hair, wear my new red lipstick, and all that, but no. I rolled out of bed and went to work.

Overall, I feel rested, and relaxed. I'm happy, I'm socialized, and I'm so ready to face another week of too much work. Actually, it's a short week thanks to the holiday! This So I am good to go. I loved my little vacation from life, and my adventures, and my spontaneity. The weekend was exactly what I've been needing. I promised everyone I would visit again, probably the next time I squeeze in two days off. And next time, I will bring my husband. We will take a little trip together. I promise.