Monday, 30 June 2014

Celiacs at Weddings, the second

My eldest sister married the man of her dreams this weekend!

Yes, my brother got married a mere six weeks ago, but hey, now my family is done with weddings for a few years!

If you remember the last wedding, my sister-in-law made sure the cake was gluten-free for me (she served cupcakes for everyone else), and one of the teenage boys there turned out to also be a celiac and he was really happy about it.

Well, if my sister-in-law is thinking of me, I can promise you that my own sister is thinking of me! Most of the meal was gluten-free as well (except for the buns!). As for the cake, it had four layers, and each layer was a different flavour. The smallest layer was a gluten-free white cake.

When it was time to serve the cake, my mother, two of the bridesmaids, and I each grabbed a layer, a knife and a cookie lifter and we each served out the different flavours.

I, of course, grabbed the gluten-free layer. As everyone lined up, they'd ask me what each flavour was, and I'd recite "Gluten-free white cake, lemon cake, carrot cake, orange-chocolate marble" and everyone would immediately file past me. A few moms of kids took the white cake because their kids wouldn't like the complicated flavours, but most people turned their nose up at gluten-free.

Except for one woman who got in line and asked "Which one was gluten-free?" And I recognized that face. It's the "Wait, I can have cake?!" face. I handed her a slice and asked if she was a celiac. She was. So I also pointed out the table of sugar cookies that I made, and told her they were safe as well. I didn't talk to her again after that, but I met her son who was a bit younger than I, and he expressed how happy, grateful and excited she was that she could have some cake. He passed on: "I would never wish this on anybody, but I am so happy the bride's sister has celiac, too!"

I think that sums up how I feel too. I would never wish this on anyone, but it makes me glad when I have more options, or when I have someone who really understands how I feel.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Birthday Sugar Cookies

I love baking, and I especially love when people enjoy my baking. When I first started eating gluten-free, I baked a couple of things that people did not enjoy. Over the last while, it's always been a bit of a gamble. Sometimes the things I bake turn out amazing and no one can believe they're gluten-free. And sometimes I keep the whole batch at home because no one would really enjoy it.

However, when you bake out of a box, you take all the gamble away. Every time you make a box mix, it turns out exactly as expected.

As such, whenever I'm baking something for something or somebody, I usually buy boxed mix. It kind of feels like cheating, but I want to convince everyone that gluten-free can be amazing, not that even experienced bakers make gross gluten-free food...

Anyways, I made Kinnikinnick's sugar cookie mix last night, in celebration of my birthday. My birthday is actually on Sunday, but I have Monday off work, so today is the closest work day to my birthday.

My mom gave me a big bucket of 101 cookie cutters for Christmas one year, and a friend gave me a couple moustache-shaped cookie cutters for my birthday a couple years ago, and I got a unicorn-shaped cookie cutter for my birthday this year. I dug out a couple of dinosaur-shaped cutters from the big bucket and made the most awesome collection of cookies ever! I kind of expected to find some birthday-themed cutters in the big bucket, but I decided a few of my favourite things would work way better anyways.

Everyone at work kept saying how sad it is that I made my own birthday treats. I hardly think so. If someone else made them, I wouldn't be able to eat them.

Oh, and I can not speak highly enough of Kinnikinnick's sugar cookie mix. No one believes they're gluten-free, and they were really easy to put together. Anybody could do it.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Jack Keaton's

I was never one of those girls to order a salad and to tip-toe around a burger. I like real food. I love barbequed food. I love ribs, and pulled pork. I do enjoy my fancy shmancy quinoa and kale salads, but there will always be room in my heart for a slow-roasted half rack of baby back ribs. Always.

I discovered a restaraunt in Regina and I've been there twice now, but will definitely be going again. Jack Keatons BBQ & Grill didn't sound like the kind of place I could eat, but it is. Their BBQ sauce is gluten-free, and although they don't have any gluten-free bread, the only non-sandwich main I couldn't eat was meatloaf. The sides were a little more difficult, out of the eight or so normal options, I only had three GF options.

 The first time I went, I was starving, so I ordered the sampler plate, and I still took home some leftovers. 

Monday, 16 June 2014


I think I lost it a little this morning.

My coworker noticed I was feeling pretty sick and asked if it was gluten. When I nodded, he said, "Why would you do that to yourself?"

I shot him a dirty look, an "Excuse me?" look if you will. And he said, "Well what did you eat?" as if I was a small child who got my finger stuck in the cookie jar.

I snapped. I lost it. "Why do people always seem to think I do this to myself? I would never purposefully eat gluten. I'm not so stupid as to do this to myself." And then I stopped to breathe. I realized that I was in my gluten-grumpy mode and needed to calm down.

So he said, "Well I don't know, maybe you were craving something."

I gritted my teeth and kept from ripping him a new one.

No. No, I would never eat gluten on purpose. No, I would never crave something and eat it. Never. Not once.

Damaging my body is not worth a donut. Being sick for five days will never be worth a slice of pizza. Nothing I could crave or desire would ever be worth knowingly making myself sick.

Yes, sometimes I engage in risky behaviour. Usually when I get sick, I know exactly what it was that made me sick because at one point during the day, I remember being paranoid and worried about something. And if there was only one moment I was paranoid, it was more than likely that moment that got me.

So yes, I guess I do this to myself. But usually the risky behavior goes hand in hand with being normal. If I want to continue functioning just like everybody else, I occasionally have to take risks. But the risks are never out of the ordinary, and often the risks are things I have done multiple times and been fine most of the time. But it only takes once.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Fifties Housewife Bridal Shower

Well, I'm still here. I survived the weekend, and I still have all my hair! I will admit that I am exhausted and I was late for work this morning because I'm just so exhausted.

However, the bridal shower went off perfectly, everything was amazing, and my sister was super happy with everything. I did manage to finish cleaning, and make and do everything before people showed up, and everyone was completely impressed with everything I did.

Every time someone walked in, they apologized for not dressing up. I was dressed to the nines, with an original 1950's housedress, my hair curled and my makeup done. Although I wasn't actually the only one dressed up. I have a friend who loves vintage as much as I do, and although she's never met my sister, I invited her, and she was thrilled to dress up and come! So the two of us were very housewife-y, as was the house and party.

I spent awhile collecting vintage melamine dishes, real napkins, napkin rings, vintage flatware, and some old wooden spoons, which you can see here. I had a million napkins, which went hardly used, although I loved having the old dishes and flatware, because I wasn't worried if anything broke, or even worried about washing it after. I planned to throw most of it out right after the party. You can also see some of my World War II era posters above the table, and a couple of dishes, because a few people had shown up before I got these photos in.

The doorway between my dining room and living room had some lovely bunting that spelled out my sister's name.

The only thing I didn't spend a ton of time on - my little bride and groom clothespins which I reused my sister-in-law's shower a month ago. (Also, funny timing on this one, but on Saturday, that post was featured on another blog, Pinstrosity.) I had these on a small vintage table and doily right by the door.

My main dining table, which didn't come close to seating everybody, but was set with 12 tea cups, each with a Werther's and Riesen candy inside.

I had this cute little game set up - there were six little bowls with a different spice in each one, and people had to smell them and guess what each spice was.

I made up a bunch of little printables for the games. There was, of course, a little square with six number and some picture of spices for the spice game, and another little square to fill in advice for the bride (the guests don't write their name, and the bride has to guess who said what) and then some blank bridal bingo cards. Before opening presents, each guest fills in what they think the bride will receive, and then as she opens presents, they mark off and compete to get a bingo. I like this game because it keeps the guests entertained while the bride is opening presents.

As for the potluck aspect, there was quite a bit of food that people brought, and it all looked delicious. A few people specifically cooked with me in mind - there was a gluten-free soup, and a cheese ball with gluten-free crackers - and then a couple other dishes I could eat like devilled eggs, fruit, veggies, taco salad and my chocolate covered strawberries & raspberries.

For the prizes for the games, I found some pink and blue oven mitts and some wooden spoons at the dollar store. I put three wooden spoons of different sizes in each set of oven mitts, and then tied a bow around it (I had blue bows on pink oven mitts and pink bows on blue oven mitts). It had a vintage feel, while still being unused items, and in a very cute presentation.

Overall, everything look spectacular. A couple of details that you probably can't see... I put candies in each cup so that people would know which cup had not been used, and everyone got a little candy. I also designed and printed little place cards for each dish so everyone would know what was what and who made what. I had a binder with page protectors on hand, and as everyone handed me their recipe, I slid it into a page protector.

It went off amazingly, everyone had fun, and everyone had lots to eat. I love bridal showers, and I'm excited to go to the next couple that I don't have to host. Yay!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Pre-Potluck Nerves

Growing up, potlucks were one of my favourite things. I even bought a cookbook filled with "Potluck Pleasers". I loved cooking and baking, and I loved sharing. I loved both sharing my things, and sharing other people's things. So if you ask me to whip up one dish and then go to a big meal with a bunch of different foods and try a little of everything, while everyone enjoys whatever magic I brought? Oh my goodness. It was heaven. Whoever thought of potlucks was seriously the smartest person ever.

Untilllll you introduce celiac disease. Now, you're asking me to make a dish that people will enjoy (Okay! Still love that part!) and then go to a big meal where all the food is next to eachother, there is no control over who brings what, and what ingredients are in what, nobody considers that the buns shouldn't be right next to the veggie tray. Even if there is something that seems to be GF, it was made in someone's kitchen, and I don't trust other people's kitchens. So really you're asking me to make some food and then carefully eat that one dish that I brought, along with some crackers I smuggled in my purse? No thanks...

I went to one shortly after I was diagnosed, only because I'd signed up for it before diagnosis. It made me sad, made me realize how much I love potlucks, and that that would probably be my last one.

Well, it won't be. I'm hosting my sister's bridal shower, and when I offered her about twenty different themes and told her to pick her favourites, she selected "Fifties Housewife" and "Potluck". So I've asked everyone to bring their favourite dish along with the recipe and dress like a fifties housewife. (Don't worry, I'm completely aware that I might be the only one dressed up, and that's okay. I'm also decorating vintage, and playing some old school games. I would also make some mid-century favourites for food, except that everyone is making food, not me.)

At one point, my husband asked what I'm supposed to eat, and I realized how terrifying a potluck was.

A potluck in my own home. People will be bringing food they made into my house, my kitchen. My safe place, my gluten-free sanctuary will be filled with food I can't eat. I'll eat ahead of time, and have some snacks out that I can eat, and I'll be fine, but that doesn't mean I'm not terrified.

And then, the other day, one of my friends asked if anyone else had any food allergies, or if it was just me. I told her not to worry about me, and she says she's been eating gluten-free, so it's not a big deal. And a couple more people messaged me to ask for gluten-free ideas.

I was actually trying to avoid this, because it's not my bridal shower. It's for my sister, who eats and loves her gluten. And they're supposed to bring recipes so she enters married life with a cookbook full of tried-and-true favourites, not gluten-free alternatives her sister can eat.

However, I'm still touched that people are thinking about me.

So the bridal shower is tomorrow, and I'm a mix of nerves, stress, and excitement. I'm psyched for my sister, I'm so happy she's getting married. I'm nervous about eating, and all that food... And I'm super stressed about all the tiny details. My house is still a mess, and I only have tonight to clean it.

And then tomorrow, I need to finish cleaning (God knows I won't finish tonight), decorate, get dressed, do my hair, fix my nails, make some chocolate-dipped strawberries, finish washing the vintage dishes I got for the party, and make sure everyone remembers what time it starts. Oh, and take pictures before anyone shows up, because we all know it's going to look amazing.

I need to stop stressing. I barely slept last night or the night before because I'm just a ball of nerves. I just need to keep breathing and get through it and focus on the highlights. Everything will be perfect.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Day at the Beach

Oh. My. Goodness.

How is it June already? Where on earth did spring go??

Well, technically it's still spring for another three weeks, but I don't think anyone considers early June to be spring.

I spent yet another weekend in Saskatoon the last couple of days, and this one might have been my favourite.

I started spending weekends there in October, while M was at school, and when he left in December, I'd made enough friends and hobbies to have reasons to go back about once a month. This time, I got Friday off work and I drove up Thursday, with plans to come home on Saturday morning, with plenty of time to still spend a weekend with my husband.